Hoopla and OneDrive are digital media services used by more than 8,500 libraries in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They allow library patrons access to movies, audiobooks, and ebooks. Libraries buy a subscription to their services, and unlike buying physical books, librarians don’t always have input or control of what’s included.
Recently, some librarians have noted materials they found concerning and contacted the Library Freedom Project who are calling on Hoopla and OneDrive for transparency on its methods for deciding titles. The digital ebook catalogue contains many controversial titles around LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, COVID disinformation, and Holocaust denial. Titles in question on Hoopla include books such as A New Nobility of Blood and Soil and GOD is BIGGER than Covid.
On February 22 2022, Library Futures and Library Freedom Project released a joint statement demanding accountability from Hoopla and OneDrive, raising concerns over some unverified and unvetted titles, and asking for clarification regarding their selection processes.
“We were recently contacted about a series of complaints related to a limited number of hoopla digital eBooks found on the platform by a group of Librarians. These titles are holocaust denial books and/or promote an ideology of hate. The presence of these titles has raised questions… about hoopla’s collection policies.”
Hoopla CEO Jeff Jankowski responded saying that the books in question have no place in the Hoopla collection and have been removed.
“The titles… came to us from our network of more than 18,000 unique publishers. Unfortunately, they made it through our protocols that include both human and system-driven reviews and screening. As a result, we have taken immediate steps to improve our process. These eBooks are inaccurate and sources of propaganda that have no place in the hoopla Instant collection. My team has removed the titles from our platform. ”
Although appreciative of Mr.Jankowski’s quick response and the removal of the books, Library Freedom Project feels the response is still insufficient (OverDrive CEO Steve Potash has not yet responded). There are still some titles on the catalogue that they feel need to be reviewed. Questions remain about how materials are chosen and approved for Hoopla’s collections. “We need Hoopla (and all digital library content aggregators) to be fully open and transparent about their collection processes, and to be willing to work with librarians to reform those processes.”
They have issued four follow up questions:
- You mentioned the automated and human review processes that are involved in your selection process. Can you describe these processes in detail?
- How has hoopla’s content aggregation/review system changed since the company’s founding?
- Have there been previous issues with Hoopla’s content before now? If so, what were they and how did you find out about them?
- What is the process by which you select publishers?