The Roku company produces digital media receivers that let people route streaming audio and video to their television sets. Last year, the Ephrata Public Library in Pennsylvania began loaning Roku boxes to patrons. The program has been so successful that the library is expanding it. Matt Enis of The Digital Shift talked to Penny Talbert, the library director, about the program:
EPL purchased two Rokus last Spring at the suggestion of the library’s technology manager. As Talbert noted, the units didn’t require a huge initial investment to try. The basic Roku LT units cost $50. For each unit, the library purchases dedicated subscriptions to Netflix and/or Hulu Plus, which currently cost $7.99 per month each, as well as other content from TED, Allrecipes.com, the BBC, and other sources. Subscriptions are set up so that patrons can’t use EPL’s account to make additional purchases while they have the units.
For comparison’s sake, Talbert noted that the total cost of the Roku and a dedicated subscription is less than libraries pay for content in many other formats. Many individual ebooks, audiobooks, or single seasons of a television series on DVD cost more than one Roku unit, she said.
“If that television series is available on Hulu, do the math. It’s not only cost savings, but space savings, and what you can offer your patrons. …This is a great way to send, basically, 100,000 movies home with a patron.”