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Free movie streaming service now available to all Salt Lake City Public Library patrons

Nov 09, 2023 02:40PM ● By Ella Joy Olsen

The cost of all those streaming services getting you down? The library has an option to put a little pizzazz in your entertainment selection, and you’ve already paid for it with your tax dollars. The Salt Lake City Public Library System provides a commercial-free streaming service called Kanopy that makes borrowing from the library feel a little bit like…stealing.

Kanopy is a streaming service that can be accessed on any device from desktop computers, to mobile devices and smart TVs. Patrons have access to five credits per month to watch critically acclaimed films and documentaries and series, and all you need is a library card.

There are over 30,000 titles to choose from and they include Sundance and Academy Award winners, Great Courses, BBC programming, seasonal favorites (think slasher films for Halloween), arthouse movies, foreign language films and classics.

So, with so many titles available, what should you choose? Again, the library has you covered.

Amy Whiting and Ivy Smith, who both work at Salt Lake City’s Main Library, provide Siskel and Ebert inspired recommendations on all of the library’s social media pages: search @SLCPL. Their knowledge of film, and their ability to enthusiastically riff about movie details, should not be underestimated. Between the two of them they’ve worked the Sundance Film Festival, at Top Hat Video, and in nonfiction audio visual. Not to mention they’ve seen thousands of movies.

When asked what their favorite genre was, they answered in harmony, “Musicals!” Then Smith expanded, “More specifically ‘West Side Story,’ the 1961 version.” Whiting agreed, “Bonding over that movie is how we first became friends.” 

They also both love classic movies. “Best classic,” Whiting said. “‘Stage Door’, a 1937 film with Katherine Hepburn, who is my queen.” 

Their quick-witted movie banter is engaging and is drawing patrons to the service. As of mid-October their most recent movie recommendation on Instagram Reel had nearly 12,000 views, resulting in a significant uptick of patron visits to the Kanopy site. 

“What I love about Kanopy is you can find films, from silent films—quite literally from the invention of cinema—to winners in the current Oscar’s race,” Whiting said. “And people still love good movies. Look at this past summer with Barbenheimer (referring to the simultaneous release of two films, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”). The demand for original movies and storytelling is alive. These are works from filmmakers who are writing original stuff, not part of a Marvel cinematic universe, and it was huge.” 

Additionally, Kanopy provides unlimited viewing of kid selections which include television episodes and movies, including PBS Kids programing, “Sesame Street,” and more. Kanopy Kids is focused on children ages 2-8, and parental controls are available to ensure kids can’t view content outside of the kid selections. 

To access Kanopy all you need is a library card from the Salt Lake Public Library System. Sign up for a card at If you don’t already have one, then download the app or find the Kanopy service on your smart TV, then log in with your library number. Additionally, you don’t have to be a resident of Salt Lake City proper, as all Salt Lake County residents are eligible for a city library card.  

You can sign in on as many devices as you wish; the only limitation is that each library account has access to a maximum of five credits per month. Credits will be automatically renewed on the first of each month. 

You will have 48 to 72 hours (depending on the title) to watch after you press play and titles will expire off your account automatically. The limited viewing window is an actual benefit, said Smith, “Like if you sit down at a theater and you are forced to stay and watch. It’s more satisfying than grabbing only a few minutes at a time and losing the thread of the story.” λ