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Kanawha library offering free documentaries, classic films online

Kanawha County Public Library

Kanawha County residents can now freely watch online the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture winner “Moonlight,” the 1950 landmark Japanese film “Rashomon” and the 2018 movie in which the frames are paintings, “Loving Vincent.”

Kids can watch television shows like “Franklin,” about the talking turtle, and “Arthur,” about the talking aardvark, plus children’s films. These include the animated Titanic films, complete with rapping animals, that YouTube’s Nostalgia Critic lambasted.

The categories of free movies, documentaries and shows include “war and action,” “LGBTQ stories,” instructional films and a collection of documentaries on education.

Late last month, the Kanawha County Public Library system began offering library cardholders the Kanopy online video streaming service, said Teddy Claypool, the system’s information technology manager.

Library card holders can go to and enter an email address, your library card number and your library PIN number to use Kanopy.

You get five free items per month, except for in the kids’ section, where there’s no limit. The five-item allowance resets on the first of each month.

After starting to watch one of the limited items, you can access it for three days before it’s locked again, requiring you to use another of the five monthly credits.

Library system Marketing Coordinator Stuart Frazier wrote in an email that each video stream costs the system $2, save for the kids’ content, which costs the system $5 per stream. Kanopy said later in an email that the cost is $5 per user, per month.

The system still offers Hoopla, where residents can freely access movies, TV, albums, graphic novels and ebooks online.

Claypool said “Kanopy is set apart because it has more in the way of documentaries and educational films,” along with movies deemed important in cinematic history.

“There’s various out-of-print films that are used in university classes,” he added. “And that’s the primary reason we got it. We had a lot of requests from individuals who needed to watch certain films or shorts that aren’t available easily on disc or even VHS anymore and Kanopy streams them.”

News outlets reported Monday that several New York City public libraries are ending their offering of Kanopy come next week, due to cost concerns.

“We believe the cost of Kanopy makes it unsustainable for the Library, and that our resources are better utilized purchasing more in-demand collections such as books and e-books,” said a New York Public Library official in a news release.

Reach Ryan Quinn at,, 304-348-1254 or follow

@RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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