Omaha Public Library renews $44K contract for free music downloads

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM CDT
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Pick a song, any song and odds are you can find it and download it from Freegal. This online music catalog has more than 11 million songs all just one click away.

Since 2011, the Omaha Public Library has paid for access to the Freegal catalog. This year's subscription will cost the library and Omaha taxpayers nearly $44,000. Assistant Library Director Rachel Steiner says, so far this year, Douglas County users have downloaded nearly 21,000 songs.

“You get four songs, per week, per library card,” said Steiner. “Four times fifty-two weeks a year, you're looking at a lot of songs you can add to your personal collection. And they are yours to keep.”

Doug Kagan is president of the Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. He believes the library should cancel its Freegal subscription and spend that money on extending its hours instead.

“It is an unnecessary expense,” Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom President Doug Kagan. “They always seem to find new things to spend money on.”

“I don't think it's a bad use of taxpayer dollars,” said Omaha City Council President Ben Gray.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, Ben Gray and the rest of the Omaha City Council voted to pay for another year of Freegal.

That decision was music to Rachel Steiner's ears.

“We're building the community of Omaha with it, because that's what all our materials really do,” Steiner said.

The price for this music service is going up. The average cost to taxpayers last year was around 40 cents per download. The library estimates this year’s cost, so far, to be around 50 cents per download. To use Freegal, you'll need your library card and pin,