The Boundless Library

What do you do if you are a public library in the age of technology?  In THIS age of technology, I mean — the one where things are growing and changing and transforming faster than fast.

I’ve watched the Orange County Public Libraries here in central Florida make the obvious adjustments — adding CD’s to the music collection and DVD’s to the movie collections. Then came books on device which was a kind of books on tape gone digital, but it came with a listening device which had to be returned. The systems for finding and checking out library resources is on-line.

I’ve heard that the libraries are trying to figure out how to deal with loaning books on things like the Kindle and other e.readers that are owned by the consumer/constituent. I’d love that.

But, while this stuff is all good, these changes are reactive. They see what has become true and figure out how to adjust.

Too often organizations are like this.

The New York Public Library has recently released an app for the iPad that is more than a response to what is. I think it is a vision of what will be. This is what it means to be a virtual library. They have, to be honest, taken my breath away.

The app is named BIBLION and so far they have one “set” of library for it — a set featuring the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.

It is FREE at the iTunes Store.

According to the NYPL website, this is the first of many sets and I’m thrilled about that. I’m not sure what I hope will be next — there are so many possibilities.

I do know that when I first explored this app I found myself dreaming of an app like this that would explore the history of the Bible, including the past century and the modern Bible translation movements as well as featuring current trends. That would be fascinating.

The thing is, I know a handful organizations off the top of my head who would have huge amounts of data/collateral to contribute to such a virtual library/gallery/museum.

Who wants to write the code?  Do you think this BIBLION deal is open source?  Yeah, probably not…but it’d be worth asking. It is, after all, the public library. (Okay, the part of my brain that wants to get things done needs to put this down and walk away…but I’m still dreaming.)