Alachua County library goers now have access to millions of songs with their library cards.
The county’s library district launched a new service Monday that allows cardholders to download popular songs and music videos for free.
The program, called Freegal Music, gives registered library card holders access to more than 7 million songs and videos, including the majority of Sony Music’s catalogue.
To use the service, card holders can either download the mobile app on their smartphones or save the files directly to their computers, according to a news release. Access allows users to download three songs or one music video per week.
Library Ideas, an international company that provides libraries with digital access to innovative products and services, runs the service, according to the release.
Nickie Kortus, marketing and public relations manager for Alachua County Library District, said the program will draw more patrons to Alachua County libraries.
Staff leaders of the district began negotiations with Library Ideas in September to obtain and launch the service this month.
“We’ve been aware of the product for a while,” Kortus said. “It’s determining whether a service can be budgeted that takes time.”
After realizing that library patrons would be interested in Freegal Music, officials approved purchasing the service.
“We’re looking forward to bringing a new type of material to users who may or may not actually step into a library,” Kortus said.
During the first day of access, more than 70 Alachua County Library card holders downloaded about 200 songs.
Kortus also said the district will consider tabling on campus at UF this month to inform students about Freegal and other services the public libraries provide, which she said complement the academic resources offered by campus libraries.
Marissa Labadie, a UF journalism junior, said students and other Alachua County residents should take advantage of the service, although she considers herself unaffected by it.
Labadie, 20, has a library card through the Miami-Dade Public Library System, which gained access to Freegal in January 2013.
“Most of my friends don’t have library cards at all,” Labadie said. “They read everything online. I’m more traditional. I actually like checking out books.”
Steven Evens, 20, is a reader and lover of books, like Labadie. But Evens, a UF economics junior, said he doesn’t think students will be interested in Freegal Music, especially when they can download songs from other places or use music streaming programs like Spotify and Pandora.
“I think if students really wanted a specific song, they would illegally download it,” Evens said.
A version of this story ran on page 9 on 1/8/2014 under the headline "County library now offers free music downloads to cardholders"
Eighteen-year-old UF engineering freshman Robert Morgado listens to music on his way to the Reitz Union on Tuesday afternoon. The Alachua County Library District has upped the size of its music collection by joining Freegal Music Service. Library users can download three free MP3 tracks per week.