Find the Future: NYPL at 100

June 21, 2011 7:34:48 AM PDT
Will you help keep libraries open?When you turn 100, it's time to celebrate! That's exactly what the New York Public Library is doing, as it marks the centennial of its renowned Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. It all started with a festival, and now the library continues to honor the moment in a variety of ways New Yorkers can all share in!

'Biblion' app released

A new iPad app has been launched, Biblion: The Boundless Library." The free app will put the library's extensive research collections at users' fingertips. Users will be able to turn over, zoom in, flip through and explore more than 700 items, organized in an "infoscape" that easily gives archives context within certain time frames. A video explaining Biblion can be found here.

The app's first installment relives the majesty of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, giving users access to approximately 2500 boxes of material -- including close to 12,000 photos.

Pages of memories in a free book

The reasons behind the centennial celebration can be found in the book published specifically for the occasion: "Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100." The book, which is available at all 90 NYPL locations while supplies last, features photographs of and essays by more than 100 luminaries from the city and around the world with their favorite item from the NYPL's vast collections.

Those who have submitted entries include comic personality Stephen Colbert, musician Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, writer Roy Blunt Jr., playwright Tom Stoppard, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and several members of ABC7's Eyewitness News Team.

A digital quilt

The library owns more than 50 million items, from the first words ever carved into stone to cutting-edge digital art. Given that it could only show a fraction of that work during the centennial celebration, the NYPL has taken the exhibition online with a limitless digital quilt, letting visitors decide what's most important, interesting or even bizarre in our vast collections -- and then letting them add their own 'square' to the quilt

The quilt is organized by four themes: Observation, Introspection, Creativity, and Society. To illustrate each theme, those in charge have created some surprising pairs of items that also show the amazing depth and breadth of NYPL's collections. Like Dante's Inferno and a Frankenstein comic book. Or Malcom X's briefcase and Tibetan prayer sheets. Visitors are encouraged to find out what these pairings have in common -- and come up with their own juxtapositions. Several NYC high school classes have already submitted squares, with others joining over the spring and fall. Check out the quilt here.

Playing 'The Game'

On May 20, approximately 500 players from across the city and beyond launched "Find the Future: The Game" with a once-in-a-lifetime overnight event inside the library. This new alternate-reality game, created by Jane McGonigal, can now be played online at or in person at the library using an iPhone or Android app.

A LEGO masterpiece

As part of the festivities, Nathan Sawaya, a brick artist, was commissioned to build replicas of the two famed lions that sit in front of the building, Patience and Fortitude, entirely out of LEGO pieces. You can check out a behind-the-scenes video here.