NYPL Labs

"...some of the most innovative digital library work anywhere." - Dan Cohen, Executive Director, Digital Public Library of America

"...showing just how much of a force for awesome experimentation a library can be today." - Dan Sinker, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, founder of Punk Planet

"...working industriously to bring things that others think impossible to reality." - Dongfang Shao, Library of Congress

"It's all part of drawing the public into the library's work." - Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education


NYPL LABS

Based at The New York Public Library's landmark central branch on 42nd Street, NYPL Labs is an experimental design and technology team working to re-imagine The Library for the Internet age. Labs developers work closely with librarians and curators to create imaginative tools, apps and experiences around library content and services, often engaging the public directly directly in the work of improving, organizing or remixing library data.

Follow: @nypl_labs »
Write: labs@nypl.org »

Labs is hiring! Help The reinvent ebook access for libraries (plus a bunch of other cool stuff):

Coming up:

Recent news and talks:

Recent publications:

  • NYPL Labs: Hacking the Library (pdf) by Labs Manager Ben Vershbow - electronic peer-reviewed version of an article published in Journal of Library Administration 53(1) (January, 2013): 10–26 - Special Issue: Digitial Humanities in Libraries – New Models For Scholarly Engagement. The article is also available at Taylor & Francis Online. Alt/Open Access table of contents of full issue available here.
  • Cover story in Library Journal (September, 2012)

ACTIVE PROJECTS

Building Inspector

Building InspectorBuilding Inspector

Our latest collaboration with the Map Division, Building Inspector is a mobile-friendly web app for improving information extracted from 19th century New York City insurance atlases. Out of a recent hack event, we developed a computer vision process that can identify building shapes and other data from georectified atlas sheets (kind of like OCR for maps). The output is good, but not perfect, so Building Inspector crowdsources the quality control, inviting users to check the computer's work, building by building. Kill time, make history. It's easy (and addictive).

Learn More »

NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital CollectionsNYPL Digital Collections

Labs has been working with NYPL's Digital Repository team on a new interface for the Library's vast digital collections website. Currently in beta, the new service is powered by NYPL's recently opened Digital Collections API and over time will become the Library's central access point for digitized and born-digital materials of all formats.

Learn More »

NYPL Archives and Manuscripts

NYPL Manuscripts and ArchivesNYPL Manuscripts and Archives

The most comprehensive discovery system for archives and manuscripts ever produced by the Library, with over 9,000 collections. This evolving platform introduces several innovative approaches to the presentation of finding aids on the web including an intuitive single-page interface, component-level search, and access to digitized materials. Produced in close collaboration with the NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division, with generous support of The Polonsky Foundation and The Hermione Foundation. 

Learn More »

What's on the Menu?

What's on the Menu?What's on the Menu?

The Library has been collecting restaurant menus for over a century, amassing one of the largest culinary archives in the world. To open up the collection online, we've enlisted the public's help in transcribing the actual contents of the menus: dishes, prices and other information of great value to researchers that, due to handwritten lettering, idiosyncratic typography and layouts, has been difficult to extract mechanically. The resulting database provides a powerful tool for researching the tastes, appetites and social fabric of the past. Thousands have participated in what is already one of the most successful documented library crowdsourcing projects, and the growing data set is now available via NYPL's first public API. A collaboration with NYPL's Rare Book Division, funded generously by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Library and Museum Services

Winner of 2011 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History from the American Historical Association!

Learn More »
Follow @nypl_menus »

Direct Me NYC: 1940 

 1940Direct Me NYC: 1940

After 72 years, the National Archives has released the full set of records comprising the 1940 Federal Census - a milestone event for historians and genealogists studying documentary material of New Deal and Depression-era America. But finding a name among the millions of handwritten records is like looking for a needle in a haystack. In response, Labs worked with the Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy to build Direct Me NYC: 1940, a site that invites users to construct targeted searches of the census data via addresses found in 1940 New York City telephone directories. Patrons are also invited to share stories about the people and addresses they've searched, building a cultural memory bank directly out of the pages of the phone book.

Learn More »
Follow @NYPLMilstein »

Stereogranimator 

StereogranimatorStereogranimator

Inspired by a library user's art project, the Stereogranimator is a browser-based tool for transforming over 40,000 historical stereographs into shareable, screen-friendly 3D formats. 19th century photography collides with early internet folk art as users remix vintage stereos into animated GIFs, bringing the past tantalizingly in reach with an eerie wiggle effect. 3D afficionados can also create red-blue anaglyphs, which, with the right glasses, recreate the incredible depth effect of these images. The site also features hundreds of stereographs from the Boston Public Library.

Learn More »
Follow @nypl_stereo »

Map Warper

Map WarperMap Warper

The NYPL Map Division is working to build an unparalleled resource for researching New York City history. The Map Warper is a tool suite, used by library staff but also open to the public, to align (or "rectify") historical maps to the digital maps of today. Tile by tile, we're stitching old atlas sheets into historical layers, that researchers can explore with pan-and-zoom functionality, comparing yesterday's cityscape with today's. Along with other tools, such as one for tracing building footprints and transcribing address and material information found on the maps, we are laying the groundwork for dynamic geospatial discovery of other library collections: manuscripts and archives, historical newspapers, photography, A/V, ephemera (e.g. menus) etc. Join our citizen cartography corps and help build this virtual atlas of New York City (and other parts of the world). Built with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recently honored as a 'Cutting-Edge Service' by the American Library Association!

Learn More » 
Follow @NYPLMaps »

RELATED PROJECTS

Music Theater Online 

Musical of the MonthMusical of the Month

Based at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), Music Theater Online is a digital archive of texts, images, video, and audio files relating to musical theater. The best printed editions of musical theater texts cannot fully provide the experience of simultaneous expression of verbal, musical, and terpsichorean languages so necessary to understand the art form. Using the multimedia capabilities of the modern web browser and mobile devices, we hope to create a better framework for studying these important works of drama. With generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, MTO's work expands this year at NYPL with the serial release of free, multi-format electronic editions of twelve historical musicals.

Learn More »

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

Shelley-Godwin ArchiveShelley-Godwin Archive

In its initial planning stages, The Shelley-Godwin Archive will present key works of British Romanticism by Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The Archive will draw primarily from the two foremost collections of these materials, those of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle at NYPL, which together hold an estimated 90 percent of all known relevant manuscripts worldwide. With the Archive’s creation, manuscripts and early editions of these writers will be made freely available to the public through an innovative framework based upon the Shakespeare Quartos Archive. First among these is the manuscript of Mary Shelley's iconic novel of 1818, Frankenstein; and second will be the working notebooks of P.B. Shelley, which are scattered amongst five partner institutions from California to England. The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) will create the project’s infrastructure, with the assistance of NYPL Labs. The Shelley-Godwin Archive is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Learn More »

OTHER EXPERIMENTS/PROTOTYPES

Radioactive

RadioactiveRadioactiveA companion website to the exhibition Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, which tells the story of Lauren Redniss, an artist, writer and former Cullman Center fellow, who drew on the vast collections of The New York Public Library to create a new work of art. NYPL Labs collaborated with a talented group of students at Parsons the New School for Design who, with Redniss as their guide, created an innovative website showcasing a dazzling array of new works inspired by the visual and narrative universe of Radioactive.

Learn More »

 

Theatrical Lighting Database

Theatrical Lighting DatabaseTheatrical Lighting Database

In partnership with the Lighting Archive and legendary designer Beverly Emmons, the Theatrical Lighting Database is a proof-of-concept version of what is aimed at being an extensive digital archive of original lighting documents. Modern theatrical lighting is a uniquely American art form, which until now has been exceedingly difficult to study due to limited access to original lighting documents. This collection contains actual plots, focus charts, cue sheets and much more from four landmark productions digitized from the collections of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. For the first time, these masterworks can now be studied in theaters, classrooms, libraries and homes far from the archives that hold them.

Learn More »

Candide 2.0

Candide 2.0Candide 2.0

Launched in conjunction with the Library’s 2009/10 exhibition, Candide at 250: Scandal and Success, Candide 2.0 was an experiment in public reading and communal annotation. In the spirit of Candide’s famous closing line “let us cultivate our garden,” we commissioned readers, or “gardeners,” from a wide variety of backgrounds (professors, novelists, playwrights, translators) to plant seeds of commentary in assigned chapters, preparing the ground for a fertile public conversation. The experiment ran for two months and amassed over 200 comments, suggesting what might be possible were the library to host more robust social editions, for scholarly, classroom or creative communities.

Learn More »

THE TEAM 


Ben Vershbow (Founder/Manager) - @subsublibrary
Brian Foo (Applications Developer) - @beefoo
David Riordan (Product Manager) - @riordan
Matt Miller (Applications Developer, Archives) - @thisismmiller
Mauricio Giraldo (Interaction Designer/Developer) - @mgiraldo
Paul Beaudoin (Applications Developer) - @nonword
Trevor Thornton (Senior Applications Developer, Archives) - @trevorthornton

Labs doodle by Michael Lascarides

WHY WE FIGHT: HIV and AIDS in New York City Neighborhoods - Call for Artists, Writers, and Activists

Opportunity to study and collaborate with artist, writer, and activist Avram Finkelstein.

In conjunction with the WHY WE FIGHT: Remembering AIDS Activism exhibition, The New York Public Library will be hosting a project to create site-specific installations in four library branches—across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—that explore the ways that HIV and AIDS are currently affecting these local New York City communities. The Library is putting out a call 

Read More ›
24 Frames per Second

24 Frames per Second

Everything and anything to do with with film and film programs at the New York Public Library.

Across A Crowded Room
Africa and the African Diaspora

Africa and the African Diaspora

The history and culture of Africans and African descendants around the world.

Archives

Archives: Out of the Box

This blog channel explores the library’s world-class and ever-growing archival holdings. We’ll examine these unique materials and the works produced by researchers consulting them. Open the box and delve into the archives with us!

Barrier-Free Library

Barrier-Free Library

The New York Public Library strives for total accessibility, no matter what our differences may be. Join us as we move down the path toward that goal.

Blog en Español

Blog en Español

Blog en Español incluye una serie selectiva de listas de libros nuevos en español de ficción y no ficción (Novedades), y otras listas conmemorativas y festivas de obras que pueden estar disponibles en diferentes formatos de audio, video y electrónico, además de información sobre programas y servicios ofrecidos en la Biblioteca Pública de Nueva York.

Community Information

Community Information

Resources and services for residents of the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Can't find what you need? Also try the Community Information Search in NYPL's Best of the Web.

eReading Room

eReading Room: The future of books at NYPL

There are so many new ways to access books and other digital reading matter on personal computers and portable devices. How to keep up? Library staff offer tips and tricks to get the most out of free ebooks online and our own eNYPL services, and share occasional thoughts on the future of reading.

Facing the Page

Facing the Page: Adult Learning Centers

Exploring adult literacy at the library. The voices and experiences of students and volunteer tutors at our Adult Learning Centers.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Uncovering the edible NYPL in books, menus, and ephemera.

For Teachers

For Teachers

This blog highlights the opportunities and resources for teachers that are available throughout the the NYPL system. Learn more about our primary sources, professional development opportunities and student learning experiences. Let NYPL help you reach your teaching and learning goals!

Freedom of Thought

Freedom of Thought

Reflections on the work of NYPL Correctional Services, promoting access to knowledge for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in our communities.

Hand-Made

Hand-Made

Are you interested in sewing and knitting, book arts and letterpress printing, traditional crafts and the new DIY, sewists of yesterday and today, vintage-inspired design, and all things handmade? Then join in the conversation at Hand-Made. We'll share information on unique items from the Library's collections as well as details on Library events that cater to the curious crafter in us all.

Inside NYPL

Inside NYPL

Dig deeper into NYPL and learn about new programs, projects, and services for patrons of all ages.

Je vois la vie en blogue… @vec NYPL

Je vois la vie en blogue… @vec NYPL

Bonjour francophones et francophiles new-yorkais! Bloguons en français avec la Bibliothèque publique de New York.

Bienvenus à ce nouvel espace dans le Web où toutes les personnes intéressées de célébrer les cultures francophones sont invitées à partager des idées et opinions sur différents sujets, soit en littérature, histoire, musique, événements, faits divers et plusieurs autres thèmes.

Job Search Central

Job Search Central: Looking for Work?

Let the Library guide your search for employment with everything from resume help to databases to classes.

LGBT@NYPL

LGBT@NYPL

Connecting you with the LGBT collections, programs, and expertise that The New York Public Library has to offer.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

Part of NYPL's Mission is to inspire lifelong learning. No matter your age, where you are in life or what new thing you are trying to learn, you can follow this channel to get suggested resources as well as support and inspiration.

LIVE from the NYPL

LIVE from the NYPL

The before and afterlife of LIVE events. Learn about speakers, get background readings, interviews, clips and more. The conversation about the conversation.

Musical of the Month

Musical of the Month

Each month, a libretto of an important early American musical in a variety of electronic formats, plus associated photographs, vocal scores, and the occasional audio file.

My Library

My Library

Who I am.
Why I use the library.
...And what keeps me coming back.

Next Chapter

Next Chapter: A 50+ Library Blog

Don't despair if you are a Boomer, or a Silent, or a Greatest — the public library is with you every step of the way! This channel covers services, programs and other items of interest for the active older adult.

NYC Neighborhoods

NYC Neighborhoods

Five boroughs, 300 square miles, 6,375 miles of streets, 8.3 million people... hundreds of neighborhoods.

This channel covers the history, culture, people, hustle and bustle and goings-on of New York City.

NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs is an experimental technology unit that works closely with curators to create tools that expand the range of interaction, interpretation and reuse of research library collections and data. Learn more

Paperless Research

Paperless Research

The New York Public Library subscribes to hundreds of online databases and other information tools. Some are available onsite while others can be accessed at home using your library card number. This blog channel offers tips and tricks on getting the most out of online resources.

Periodically Speaking

Periodically Speaking

A reading series providing a major venue for emerging writers to present their work while emphasizing the diversity of America’s literary magazines and the magazine collections of The New York Public Library. Each event presents writers from three influential literary magazines—one poet, one fiction writer, one nonfiction writer—introduced by their editors. This blog provides coverage and context around Periodically Speaking events.

Poetry Month

Poetry Month

Each April, librarians throughout NYPL post readings, discussions and events celebrating National Poetry Month, a time when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

Popular Music

Popular Music

Libraries are thought of as quiet places, but that doesn't mean the NYPL doesn't know how to rock out. This channel will highlight popular music found in the library's collections.

Preservation

Preservation

News about the Library's preservation efforts and information for those interested in preserving their own collections. About the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division.

Reader’s Den

Reader’s Den

The Reader’s Den is an online book discussion group offering library readers with busy lifestyles a convenient way to connect with books and The New York Public Library.  This virtual discussion is accessible 24/7 and gives readers an opportunity to spark insightful discussions with the surrounding community by reading at his or her own pace.

The NYPL Broadcast

The NYPL Broadcast

The NYPL Broadcast serves up the latest in audio and video recordings made at The New York Public Library, everything from short profiles of our staff and collections, to full-length recordings of our LIVE from the NYPL, KidsLive and TeenLIVE programs.

The Ticketless Traveler

The Ticketless Traveler

Travel the world without leaving your chair with these book, film and music recommendations.

Three Faiths

Three Faiths

Librarians, curators, programmers, educators, and users share their thoughts on faith, and discuss the Library's Three Faiths exhibition. Check here regularly from October to February 2011 for: behind-the-scenes glimpses at the making of the exhibition; art, literature, and music at the intersection of Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam; lively discussions about the similarities and differences among these three religions... And more!

Vandamm

Vandamm

This blog channel is inspired by the exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts, Poet of Light: Florence Vandamm & the Vandamm Studio, which is on view from September 2013 through February 2014. The exhibition samples the photographs, key sheets and negatives are becoming available on the Digital Gallery.

Women's History Month

Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, each March, NYPL librarians present a monthlong series of posts highlighting the many amazing women they've discovered through the print and online resources of The New York Public Library.

All Possible Worlds

All Possible Worlds: Conversations on Voltaire's 'Candide'

Based in the recently closed exhibition Candide at 250: Scandal and Success, this blog traces the vectors Voltaire's book has taken through the popular and scholarly imagination. Posts frequently reference passages and commentaries in an experimental online edition, Candide 2.0. Learn more...

Design by the Book

Design by the Book

Mining the Library's collections for art and craft inspiration.

Duke Jazz Series

Duke Jazz Series

Coverage and context on The Duke Jazz Series and Talks at the Library for the Performing Arts.

Haiti

Haiti

NYPL resources on the history, culture and geography of Haiti, and information on rebuilding and relief efforts in the aftermath of the January, 2010 earthquake.

The Great American Revue

The Great American Revue

Revues and other topical popular entertainment of the early 20th century.