Database Highlight: Kanopy, the Video Streaming Service


Update – 11/21/2018:  The Graduate Center is no longer adding videos to our Kanopy collection.  And as per Kanopy, our access is restricted to the films we have previously licensed. The widest array of streaming videos is available via NYPL’s access, which you can reach directly from the Kanopy entry in the GC’s A-Z list of databses.  Additionally, Kanopy titles can be accessed with an active library card from the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library (and each library system may license different film titles).  For more information, please see the the Kanopy database description in our A-Z list of databases.

Original Post:

This spring we will be highlighting in a series of occasional posts some useful library resources that might be flying under your radar.  We begin with Kanopy, the subscription streaming video service that includes more than 26,000 feature films, documentaries, and instructional videos from distributors such as the BBC, PBS, and Criterion Collection.

An excellent resource for film scholars, Kanopy includes early films such as A Trip to the Moon and The Great Train Robbery, more than 1,400 foreign language films including L’avventura and Black Orpheus, cult classics, independent cinema, rare and restored films, and nearly 70 filmmaking instruction videos.

The 4,000+ documentaries in the collection may entice you to supplement the scholarly books and articles in your bibliographies with visual sources.  As noted in the Oxford Dictionary of Film Studies, documentaries are designed to “educate, inform, communicate, persuade, raise consciousness, or satisfy curiosity.”  Use them to get a fresh angle on your topic, to spark inquiry, and to inspire your research.  (Just remember to watch documentaries critically and evaluate them as closely as you would any other type of source.)

Films are easily found with a title, name, or keyword search, but part of the fun of using Kanopy lies in its Netflix-like display that invites browsing.  Double-clicking on “Subjects” opens a subject tree that shows topics at a glance.  Selecting Fashion, for instance, brings up 407 videos.  These include runway shows, designer biopics, annual year in fashion videos, and documentaries like Clothes to Die For.  The Sciences category includes more than 2,600 films, 990 of which fall under the sub-topic Environmental Sciences.  Among these are Food Choices: How our Diet Affects the Planet, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

The GC library holds public screening rights for all of the titles in Kanopy, so student groups and departments may show films without needing to seek permission from rights holders.  Instructors may screen clips or entire films in the classroom or add links to them in Blackboard.

Film majors, scientists, social scientists, and movie buffs alike will enjoy this resource.  Log into Kanopy with your GC network credentials to watch films from anywhere on any device.

About the Author

Donna Davey is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.