Just a few days ago, Bill Young shared with our liball list the following wonderful animated cartoon called “it’s a Book.” http://www.theliteracysite.com/clickToGive/lit/article/Its-a-Book-by-Laine-Smith160&ThirdPartyClicks=EEL_091211_article_m  I have the same fondness for the physical book, but the book is beginning to change.  I attended the OCLC Symposium at the meeting of the American Library Association in New Orleans in June.  The title of the symposium was “The Infinite Collection: Resources in the Digital Age.”  The speakers were Clifford Lynch, Brian Schottlaender, Rick Anderson and Bobbi Newman.  One of the key things that piqued my interest was the innovative new books that are becoming available. 

Push Pop Books

Push Pop Books (recently acquired by Facebook) set out to reimagine the book using text, images, video, audio and interactive media.   Their first publication is Al Gore’s Our Choice, which was released earlier this year.

“Our Choice will change the way we read books. And quite possibly change the world. In this interactive app, Al Gore surveys the causes of global warming and presents groundbreaking insights and solutions already under study and underway that can help stop the unfolding disaster of global warming. Our Choice melds the vice president’s narrative with photography, interactive graphics, animations, and more than an hour of engrossing documentary footage. A new, groundbreaking multi-touch interface allows you to experience that content seamlessly. Pick up and explore anything you see in the book; zoom out to the visual table of contents and quickly browse though the chapters; reach in and explore data-rich interactive graphics.”  Download the book to your iPhone, Ipod Touch or Ipad from the App Store or online at http://pushpoppress.com/ourchoice/  Be sure to blow on the windmill to make it move.

 10 innovative digital books you should know about

You’ll also want to take a look at this article by Peter Meyers at http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/06/10-innovative-digital-books-yo.html

Of course some of what is included here raises the question of  “what is a book?”  One good example from this article is the iBirdPro HD (http://www.ibirdexplorer.com/).  This is essentially a digital version of a field guide available for the iPad and iPhone.  But like many reference books, the print equivalent has been replaced with an easily updatable database or app.  The beauty, of course, the ease with which new information can be added.  These new versions also include features that could never have been provided in print – recordings of the various birds, selecting the characteristics of the bird you’re interested in and searching for species that match.  There is no question that these are improved books/reference guides for users.  But how can libraries expect to preserve them for the long term?

You’ll also want to check out the New York Public Library site NYPL Biblion (http://www.nypl.org/biblion).  This too is an app with the first installment focused on collections related to the 1939 World’s Fair.  “Every edition of Biblion will open up another of the Library’s collections, services, or programs by providing exclusive content in an innovative frame.”

British Library 19th Century Historical Collections

This app from the British Library includes more than 1,000 19th century books.  Available now for free, the collection is expected to expand to 60,000 title by later this summer when pricing will be announced.

 “What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library”

Okay, this article isn’t specifically about digital books, but it is such a wonderful review of the scope of things the New York Public Library is doing to remain relevant and create a “virtual” role in the lives of their users.  The article is written by Alexis Madrigal and appears in the June 2011 issue of The Atlantic.  It’s online at http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/06/what-big-media-can-learn-from-the-new-york-public-library/240565/

The article has high praise for Biblion noting that “moving around the app doesn’t feel like flipping through the pages of a museum catalog or crawling around a website.  To me, it felt like a native application for the tablet era …”  Here are a few more quotes to pique your interest:

  • The library sees its users as collaborators in improving the collections the library already has
  • The logic of delivering what users want leads inexorably to trying to give them the best digital experiences in the world
  • PR and content are all tied together now … Tumblr provides a flow of tiny stories from and about their collections
  • What’s on the Menu? – a slick project  to crowdsource the transcription of tens of thousands of menus that, by virtue of their fonts and designs are resistant to OCR

So I’ve digressed a bit from my original theme, but there is no doubt that the creation of information resources – whether they are books, archival sites, or apps – is changing and libraries will need to evolve with those changes.