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The Blue & Gray Press | August 23, 2019

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UMW introduces new online streaming database granting free access to documentaries

UMW introduces new online streaming database granting free access to documentaries


The University of Mary Washington has many great resources on campus for professors and students but there is a more recent resource that has gone unnoticed by most of the UMW community. This resource is called Kanopy streaming and was founded by Olivia Humphrey in 2008.

This website provides students with access to numerous films and documentaries. It is said to be a great resource for students and professors alike.

“Kanopy markets itself as the Netflix for education,” said Robert Flatley.

Mary Washington has not fully purchased this website. Instead, the university’s initial access to Kanopy functions through a pilot program coordinated by VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia.

“VIVA is a coordinated effort of all the academic libraries in Virginia, public and private, and we benefit greatly from VIVA,” said Mary Washington librarian, Rosemary Arneson.

UMW library is able to own the rights to streaming a film when it has been accessed a certain amount of times. Essentially, when a film is viewed multiple times and hits that magic number then students, who have access through their institution’s public or private library, are able to stream the video.

“VIVA has allocated a certain amount for each library to allow us to try out this service,” says Arneson. “If we go over that amount, then the UMW Libraries will start paying for those films that are viewed enough to trigger a purchase.”

Though Kanopy streaming is a mystery to many, there are some people on campus who know about it and find it to be useful. English professors, Teresa Kennedy and Jon Pineda, both enjoy this tool. Kennedy said that she finds it hard to navigate the streaming website at times. Pineda analyzed Kanopy for the academic potential it has.

“I’m interested in how narratives are constructed, whether it’s fiction or creative nonfiction, and Kanopy seems like it will be a great resource for creative writing students, especially those in senior capstone seminars,” said Pineda.

Students who have used Kanopy before, have only had positive things to say about it.

“I didn’t know about Kanopy at first until I heard a friend ask about it in class but [then] I decided to check it out and I actually really like it,” said senior David Mercer. “This may be a great resource for our campus, however, we need to get more people on campus familiar with Kanopy.”