Short description

The app Biblion was developed by the New York Public Library (NYPL) and is one of the most visually stunning apps ever, all categories. The fact that it is not a commercial interest that wants to sell something, but an organisation that wants to share knowledge is encouraging. This is obviously only a first step and hopefully other libraries step up to the challenge, not only to make different apps, but to collaborate and make universal access to knowledge attractive and inspiring.

As the NYPL writes “Libraries are the memory of humankind, irreplaceable repositories of documents of human thought and action.” To present this memory in a way that encourages curiosity and exchange of ideas is one of the important tasks for humanity in the 21st century.

“The app is designed to take you — all but literally — into the Library's legendary stacks, opening up hidden parts of the collections and the myriad storylines they hold and preserve. In this free app you will hold documents, images, films, audio, and essays — directly from the collections into your own hands.”

One challenge that this highlights is that the stories of the rich today dominate and it is important to find mechanisms that allow other stories and memories to also be transferred in order to avoid a digital divide.. Hopefully this app can encourage a global collaboration to create a digital Alexandria for everyone on the planet.

Read more about the app here.

The best with the app/supporting initiative

+ The fact that NYPL own statement “The Library has but one criterion for admission: curiosity” is something that is implemented also for their app development.
+ That they dare to lead and not follow when it comes to graphic interface.
+ That they aim high and that this is only the start.

The weak parts of the app/supporting initiative

- Lack of sharing possibilities makes this a one-way app, but this is under development.
- Limited content, but NYPL say that this will be addressed.
> Unclear global contribution. The worst thing that could happen is that the rich world develops fantastic interfaces to access their/our own history, but other parts of the world are excluded. Many groups do not even have their histories digitalized so maybe NYPL and others could help entrepreneurs that are doing interesting work in the area.

What could accelerate this app/supporting initiative into a world changer?

> Support for processes that get stories from less affluent/influential groups in society presented in the way this app is built.
> Support for a global interface that can be used by anyone in order to support a development where access to public information is not fragmented.


How direct is the delivery of the result the app tries to achieve
  • Direct
  • Indirect
  • Inspirational
  • Long shot


A click on the app and you enter the world of the 1939s–40s New York World’s Fair and can use this information to inspire action.

Transformative approach

How transformative is it
  • A new world
  • A major shift
  • A bit of a shake-up
  • A gentle rocking


The app shows how history can become part of our daily life and that new ways of accessing information is possible, but with such a limited database and with no possibility to share/discuss experiences it is still very much a web 1.0 tool.

How much does it encourage collaborations

How much are new networks supported
  • Strong support for global networks?
  • Currently encourages new forms of collaboration
  • Provides interesting opportunities in the future
  • Restricted to a small (expert) group


Right now it does not encourage collaboration at all, neither regarding the data in the app, nor regarding the need to broaden the scope of data to include in apps like this.

What synergies can be delivered

How well does it also solve other problems/generate solutions
  • It solves everything
  • Several important challenges
  • Some important challenges
  • Only one challenge


Knowledge is key to all the challenges we face, but knowledge alone is not enough to deliver solutions.

Nine billion contribution

How global is it? Is it helping/will it help everyone on the planet
  • Instant global equality
  • Almost global
  • Getting (incrementally) global
  • Not applicable


Here is a weak spot of the app. It is important that strategies exist that ensure that both content and soft/hardware is developed in ways that allow inclusion. The current version is very limited when it comes to content from a global perspective.

Building on current trends

How well does it use current trends
  • The app is setting new trends by itself
  • Building on multiple trends
  • Effectively building on one trend
  • Not really building on any major trend


The digitalisation of information provides innovative groups like NYPL to develop totally new interfaces that can support curiosity among groups that are seldom exposed to non-commercial messages that help understand the world we live in.


How fast can it deliver
  • It's already happening
  • In the coming weeks
  • In a year or so
  • In a distant future (hopefully)


The app a demonstration of how information can be presented and that a non-profit project can lead the way when it comes to interfaces in the 21st century.


Does it support transformative transparency
  • Brave new transparency
  • Transparency that is innovative (never seen before)
  • Increased transparency, but nothing innovative
  • No increase in transparency


The app is an excellent demonstration of how history can come alive and become relevant in our time. The theme the app started with, a “world’s fair”, is more relevant than ever.

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