What's happening in New York libraries?

The Underground Library is a fictional student's project to encourage more people to come into New York libraries. Whilst this premise doesn't seem to match the bustling reality of most libraries around the world,  the project itself is an interesting concept. Using subway adverts, people are encouraged to use their mobile phones to download 10 tantalising pages of a book. Not only does this give commuters something to do on the train but it is also the lure to get them interested enough in a book, that they to visit the library and take it out.

Ref: AWNS-19420729-16-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The New York Public Library is always a fun place to visit online (since visiting from NZ is relatively impractical) and my visit to the website recently did not disappoint. World Fair: Enter the World of Tomorrow draws on one of the library's most popular archival collections - the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. The archive includes the official corporate records of the fair and covers a staggering array of topics including: music, food, fashion, popular culture, all at a time when the world was on the brink of WW2.

Another resource offered by the library which gives insight into their collections is Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley and Frankenstein. This multi layered resource looks at the questions which guided Mary Shelley's writing of Frankenstein. These questions, such as what makes a monster or an outsider, are still pertinent today. This resource explores these connections and in doing so, illustrate the relevance and breadth of the library's collections.

Ref: AWNS-19210224-34-5, Monster of the deep, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Both are available both as an online resource and a free iPad app and are published using Biblion: Boundless Library. The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle, a second version of the Frankenstein app uses social media to create online debate and social reading and also gives users access to original primary source documents.

Content in both the World Fair and Fankenstein is divided into different sections and types of resources, which will appeal to a wide range of users. Included are in-depth essays as well as feature stories and galleries, which are told through text and photographs, letters and other material from the collections. This is an immersive experience, leading the user in a multitude of different directions through the library's rich content.

Auckland Libraries has a range of heritage resources focused on New York as well as Mary Shelley's classic, Frankenstein.


  1. Another similar project, which was launched last year - a pop up Digital Library in a Bucharest subway station lets commuters download books (please copy & paste into your browser):



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