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Green Planet Stream Digital Content Collaboration

San Francisco Public Library, CA
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Innovation Summary

San Francisco Public Library worked closely with Green Planet Films, a small nonprofit film distribution company, to modify their commercial platform for library licensing. As a result, SFPL patrons gained access to a collection of streaming environmental films and now Green Planet can market its collection to other libraries.

Problem Statement

Libraries have always been an environmentally conscious model for collaborative consumption of books and media and a distributed environmental footprint. While the landscape is changing rapidly, few options have been available to libraries for streaming video content. SFPL was approached by Green Planet Stream, a local, Marin, Calif.-based environmental film distribution nonprofit with the rights to many independent environmental films. Green Planet wanted to gain wider distribution of its content via a streaming platform. SFPL staff worked collaboratively with the company on modifications to its WordPress website so that it could manage a patron authentication model allowing Green Planet content to be licensed to libraries. Green Planet Stream is the companion site to Green Planet Films, a nonprofit distributor of nature and environmental films from around the globe that promote environmental education through film. It started up in 2003 as a distributor of DVDs, but in 2011 launched a streaming platform in an attempt to reach a wider audience with an eco-video format. With limited resources, Green Planet Films wanted to learn how to make its content available to libraries. Meanwhile, SFPL had limited downloadable video content and no significant streaming video content. This project allowed SFPL to be a leader in creating an environmental streaming film channel for libraries around the globe.


SFPL staff encouraged and assisted Green Planet Stream in modifying its platform for library consumption. With the advice of SFPL’s digital initiatives manager Jon Worona and the Library’s IT staff, Green Planet was able to determine the steps needed to take so that its WordPress site could manage the authentication process. Green Planet used contract web developers as needed during the project. Various technical difficulties including proxy authentication and issues of library user navigation cues were surmounted and in January SFPL was able to launch the site in several places on the web site: on the Library’s Green Stacks Page, in a list of Articles and Databases, and as individual records discoverable in the OPAC. SFPL cataloged all 70 films in the collection and continues to catalog new content as it is added so that it can be discovered via the Library’s catalog. In turn Green Planet will be able to offer these MARC records to other libraries to benefit the entire library community. Green Planet plans to license its content to other libraries with an unlimited simultaneous access model for a very moderate fee.


SFPL is now offering a green way to enjoy film and video. A collection of 70 Green Planet Streaming environmental films is now available to patrons for use on their computers, tablets and smart phones. Videos can be viewed in the library or from any internet connected device that plays video. Green Planet incorporates closed captioning and some films with subtitles in non-English languages. This database represents the first major collection of streaming video available from SFPL. Staff is proud to provide a collection of eco-video that speaks to one of SFPL’s passions, the environment, and to work with this local, non-profit and to be its first library partner. SFPL plans to market this collection to local schools via SFPL’s partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District. Many small content providers do not understand the library market and may need assistance and encouragement to modify their platforms to be able to offer content to libraries. It is mutually beneficial for libraries to work with them to overcome the technical challenges and encourage the provision of their valuable and interesting independent content to library users.