UIC Library’s New Streaming Service

Screenshot of Kanopy Category List modified by L. Rochester 10/1/2017

Screenshot of Kanopy Category List modified by L. Rochester 10/1/2017

This September, the UIC Library purchased a subscription to the on-demand streaming service Kanopy. All UIC students, staff and faculty can now enjoy hours of movies, documentaries and educational content online. Kanopy is a streaming service specifically created for libraries, both public and academic, and it features both movies and non-fiction films. 

Why do academic libraries need streaming media? Doesn’t everyone have their own Netflix, Hulu or Amazon accounts? First, individual streaming services typically only allow private use. They do not allow class, group or public viewings. Second, not everyone can afford to keep up with all the content and service providers available.  Also, how many movie and TV show streaming services provide great non-fiction content?

Streaming media allows libraries to meet the academic needs of students who are relying on diverse formats for their information and research. A 2017 survey of over 200 academic libraries reported that 95% are providing some sort of streaming service to students [1]. Librarians reported Kanopy as “most valuable” for both student and faculty users [2]. 

Started in Australia in 2008, Kanopy is an international service that provides streaming subscriptions to over 3,000 libraries. Kanopy includes 26,000+ films and the title list is updated frequently. Kanopy looks a lot like Netflix. Users can easily browse categories like “Popular Documentaries”, “New Movies”, “Trending Now” and “World Cinema”. Kanopy features the Criterion Collection with such classics as The Red Balloon, Don’t Look Back and Rashomon. It includes non-English content including films in Spanish, French and 4 other languages. Search by film maker, studio and featured actors to find specific titles. Science related categories include: Agriculture & Geology, Applied Science, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics and Zoology.  Besides the 2,500+ titles to choose from in the sciences, there are also videos about Social Sciences, Business, Education and Health. 

To give you a better example of some of the content on Kanopy I’ve provided a brief review a video I watched recently.


Climate Change: Coral Reefs on Edge was filmed in 2009 by Plankton Productions.  No mere musical montage of pretty tropical fishes, this short film explores the work of Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. Hoegh-Guldberg has over 240 publications listed in Web of Science. Read his most recent publication on sponge bioerosion. In this video, Hoegh-Guldberg investigates how temperature and acidification affect corals on reefs around the world. Did you know that 1 of every 4 species that lives in the ocean lives in a coral reef3? Did you know that coral reefs provide food and resources for 500 million people worldwide4? Hoegh-Guldberg goes beyond introductory information to cite articles and studies explaining how the aragonite saturation constant will continue to affect reefs.  Animations and graphs are used to illustrate bleaching thresholds and how zooxanthellae help corals use sunlight.


To start watching films on Kanopy choose “Databases” on the library website.  Kanopy is listed under “K”.  Like all UIC subscription databases you will have to log in if you are off campus using your UIC NetID and password.  Each user can create their own Kanopy account to save titles and make playlists. You can watch movies on Kanopy on most mobile apps including iOS and Android.

Kanopy content can be used by individuals or in class.  Each video has a link or embed code that makes it easy to share contents with colleagues or post in Blackboard for class viewing.  If you want your class just to watch part of a video you can share just a clip or create a playlist of clips.

Kanopy certainly focuses on narrative content.  If you are looking for instruction videos on instrumentation or specific methods try JoVE.  See Academic Video Online for more streaming video selections.  If you have any questions about using Kanopy or streaming media please email me (clantz@uic.edu). 

[1 & 2] Dixon, J. A. (2017). The academic mainstream: Streaming video is becoming a mainstay on college campuses, but discovery and walled-off content create their own challenges. Library Journal, 142(14), 42.

[3 & 4] Plankton Productions (producer). 2009.  Climate Change: Coral Reefs on Edge (motion picture). U. S. A.: The Video Project.