NYPL Biblion: World’s Fair presents an in-depth educational experience

Jun 13, 2011
Tech

The New York Public Library houses more than 50 million items in its vast collection, and now the content housed within the research institution is making its way to iPad via the new NYPL Biblion: The Boundless Library app series. First up, is the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. The first thing you’ll notice when […]

The New York Public Library houses more than 50 million items in its vast collection, and now the content housed within the research institution is making its way to iPad via the new NYPL Biblion: The Boundless Library app series. First up, is the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.

The first thing you’ll notice when you launch NYPL Biblion: World’s Fair is its striking interface. Presented as a magazine — sort of — the app begins with a random image covered with links to inside content. If none of the cover lines strike your fancy, tap the image, and you’ll be taken on a journey to the center of the stacks.

On this main screen, you’ll see seven groups divided by theme, and if it’s your first look at the app you’ll want to head to “Introduction,” which will lead you through the different features of the app. Although the content in NYPL Biblion is presented beautifully, I found the navigation to be complex. There are multiple ways to reach each piece of content, which range from essays to photos to historic documents to video clips. Users can also choose to view the provided information in vertical book format or in landscape slide-show mode. In most instances the app will direct you to additional information, like sidebars in the book view or photo captions that pull up from the bottom of the screen, however, you’ll want to keep a close eye on every part of the screen to be sure not to miss any information — and there is a lot to take in.

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NYPL Biblion: World’s Fair is rife with fascinating content, and is a must-grab for students and armchair historians alike. I experienced some crashing, and since the app doesn’t provide any sort of bookmark or place keeper it was a pain to find my place in the app again. I was also surprised that the app doesn’t offer a search function, which would be extremely useful considering the amount of information it contains. This addition, plus fixes for general buggy-ness would earn Biblion five stars.

NYPL Biblion: World’s Fair is free to download. I can’t wait to see what topic the New York Public Library launches for iPad next.

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