The “Most Secretive Library in the World”: The Future Library Will Collect 100 Original Manuscripts by Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell & More, to Be Read for the First Time in 2114

Should intel­li­gent life of some form or anoth­er still inhab­it the plan­et in the year 6939, such beings might come upon an “800-pound tube of an alloy of cop­per and chromi­um called Cupaloy” that was buried 50 feet beneath what was once Queens. The first time cap­sule, low­ered under the West­ing­house exhib­it at the 1939 New York World’s Fair con­tains “35 items one might find in any run-of-the-mill Smith fam­i­ly house­hold,” as Jin­woo Chong writes at Untapped Cities, “includ­ing copies of Life mag­a­zine, a Sears and Roe­buck cat­a­log, cig­a­rettes and seeds of wheat, corn, alfal­fa and soy.”

The Future Library, a time cap­sule-like project present­ly in the works, takes a very dif­fer­ent approach to the con­cept. “A for­est is grow­ing in Nor­way,” explains an intro­duc­to­ry video on cre­ator Katie Paterson’s web­site. “In 100 years it will become an anthol­o­gy of books.” The books that will be print­ed from 1,000 trees plant­ed in Nord­mar­ka, north of Oslo, will not, how­ev­er, trans­mit min­ing and nav­i­ga­tion­al instruc­tions, but a full range of human emo­tion and per­son­al expe­ri­ence. Or so we might assume. Unlike the 1939 time cap­sule, we’ll nev­er know what’s inside them.

Scot­tish artist Pater­son has planned a library of 100 cre­ative works of fic­tion, non-fic­tion, and poetry—one man­u­script sub­mit­ted every year until 2114, when she intends them all to be print­ed in 3,000 copies each and read for the first time. Almost none of us will be there to wit­ness the event, yet “the timescale is… not vast in cos­mic terms,” she says. “It is beyond our cur­rent lifes­pans, but close enough to come face to face with it, to com­pre­hend and rel­a­tivize,” unlike the incom­pre­hen­si­ble future of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine or the far-off world for which West­ing­house designed their cap­sule.

Nonethe­less, tech­no­log­i­cal, and per­haps even evo­lu­tion­ary, change has increased expo­nen­tial­ly in the past sev­er­al decades, as have the pos­si­bil­i­ties for glob­al extinc­tion events. Mar­garet Atwood, the first author to sub­mit an unpub­lished, unread man­u­script to the Future Library in 2014, is char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly less than san­guine about the exis­tence of future read­ers for her man­u­script, enti­tled Scrib­bler Moon. “It’s very opti­mistic to believe that there will still be peo­ple in 100 years,” she says in the short video above, and “that those peo­ple will still be read­ing.” Atwood imag­ines a near-future that may not even rec­og­nize our time.

Which words that we use today will be dif­fer­ent, archa­ic, obso­lete? Which new words will have entered the lan­guage? We don’t know what foot­notes we will need. Will they have com­put­ers? Will they call them some­thing else? What will they think smart­phones are? Will that word still exist?

Writ­ers for the project are cho­sen by the Future Library’s board of trustees. After the can­ny selec­tion of Atwood, they chose the equal­ly on-the-nose David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, who calls the library “the Ark of Lit­er­a­ture.” It is a strange ark, filled with ani­mals few peo­ple liv­ing now will like­ly ever see. “The world’s most secre­tive library,” The Guardian calls it.  In 2016, Ice­landic nov­el­ist and poet Sjón sub­mit­ted his mys­te­ri­ous text. The fourth work came from Turk­ish nov­el­ist Elif Shafak, who named the project “a sec­u­lar act of faith.”

The lat­est writer cho­sen is Man Book­er-win­ning South Kore­an nov­el­ist Han Kang, who described the Future Library as a lit­er­al expres­sion of the writer’s thoughts on their duty to pos­ter­i­ty: “I can­not sur­vive 100 years from now, of course. No one who I love can sur­vive, either. This relent­less fact has made me reflect on the essen­tial part of my life. Why do I write? Who am I talk­ing to, when I write?” Did Jane Austen imag­ine her read­ers of 100 years lat­er? Could she ever have imag­ined us?

Not only is the Future Library an act of lit­er­ary faith, but it is an eco­log­i­cal one. “The next 96 years do not look promis­ing for the seedlings,” writes Merve Emre at The New York Times, “which are more vul­ner­a­ble than their ances­tors to all man­ner of man-made dis­as­ters.” The project sym­bol­i­cal­ly binds togeth­er the fates of the book and the trees, mak­ing “the phys­i­cal­i­ty of cul­ture pal­pa­ble by insist­ing that we con­front the long, labo­ri­ous process of pre­serv­ing lan­guage.”

In 2020, the col­lec­tion of man­u­scripts will be moved to a “Silent Room” in Oslo, a “womb-shaped cham­ber fac­ing the for­est, lined with wood from its trees.” Vis­i­tors can come and ven­er­ate these secre­tive future relics in their rib­bon-wrapped gray box­es. But their contents—should the ambi­tious endeav­or go as planned—will remain as elu­sive as the shape of our col­lec­tive future 100 years from now.

via NYTimes

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Books Could Be Used to Rebuild Civ­i­liza­tion?: Lists by Bri­an Eno, Stew­art Brand, Kevin Kel­ly & Oth­er For­ward-Think­ing Minds

Bertrand Russell’s Advice to Peo­ple Liv­ing 1,000 Years in the Future: “Love is Wise, Hatred is Fool­ish”

Aldous Hux­ley to George Orwell: My Hell­ish Vision of the Future is Bet­ter Than Yours (1949)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Library of Congress Makes Thousands of Fabulous Photos, Posters & Images Free to Use & Reuse

The his­to­ry of the ven­er­a­ble Library of Con­gress demon­strates the vast impor­tance that the founders of the U.S. accord­ed to read­ing and study­ing. It may be one of the country’s most durable insti­tu­tions, “the old­est fed­er­al cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion in the nation,” it pro­claims. While par­ti­san ran­cor, war, and vio­lence recur, the LoC has stolid­ly held an ever-increas­ing­ly diverse col­lec­tion of arti­facts sit­ting peace­ful­ly along­side each oth­er on sev­er­al hun­dred miles of shelves, a mon­u­ment to the life of the mind that ought to get more atten­tion.

Tout­ing itself as “the largest library in the world,” its col­lec­tions “are uni­ver­sal, not lim­it­ed by sub­ject, for­mat, or nation­al bound­ary, and include research mate­ri­als from all parts of the world and in more than 450 lan­guages.”

Its first mate­ri­als were, of course, books—including over six-thou­sand books pur­chased from Thomas Jefferson’s pri­vate col­lec­tion after the British burned the orig­i­nal library down in 1814. Now, it “adds approx­i­mate­ly 12,000 items to the col­lec­tion dai­ly,” in every pos­si­ble for­mat one can imag­ine.

And since its dig­i­tal col­lec­tions came online, any­one, any­where in the world can call up these vast resources with an inter­net con­nec­tion and a few clicks. Though we tend to take such things for grant­ed in our fer­vid­ly dis­tract­ed times, a lit­tle reflec­tion should remind us of how incred­i­ble that is. But before we wax too rhap­sod­ic, let’s remem­ber there’s a busi­ness end to the LoC and it’s called the U.S. Copy­right Office, that guardian of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty that both ensures cre­ators can prof­it from their labors and pre­vents the free and open use of so many enrich­ing mate­ri­als long after those cre­ators have need of them.

But the Library has done its dig­i­tal users a ser­vice in this regard as well, with its “Free to Use and Reuse Sets,” a siz­able col­lec­tion of images that the Library “believes… is either in the pub­lic domain, has no known copy­right, or has been cleared by the copy­right own­er for pub­lic use.” (The use of the word “believes” seems to leave room for doubt, but if you got it with per­mis­sion from the LoC, you’re prob­a­bly safe.) Need pho­tographs of Abra­ham Lincoln—and scans of his speech­es, let­ters, and “duel­ing instruc­tions”—for that book you’re writ­ing? You’re cov­ered with this gallery. Need a col­lec­tion of clas­sic chil­dren’s books for your web­site (or your read­ing plea­sure)? Here you go.

From the graph­ic genius of vin­tage WPA and trav­el posters to icon­ic jazz por­traits by William Got­tlieb to base­ball cards to end­less­ly quaint and quirky Amer­i­can road­side attrac­tions to pic­tures of dogs and their peo­ple… you nev­er know when you might need such images, but when you do you now know where to find them. Want to know what’s in the set called “Not an Ostrich”? A valkyrie cat named Brunnhilde, for one thing, and much more here.

The Library cur­rent­ly high­lights its “Poster Parade”—a set of posters from the 1890s to the 1960s fea­tur­ing “trav­el, com­mer­cial prod­ucts, war pro­pa­gan­da, enter­tain­ment, and more”—in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Poster House, a muse­um open­ing in New York next year. These range from delec­table art nou­veau ads to shouty broad­sides telling you to drink your milk, brush your teeth, or have “More Cour­tesy.” Sen­si­ble pre­scrip­tions, but we also need more knowl­edge, study, and thought. Start at the LoC’s Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tions here and har­vest your free to use and reuse images here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Library of Con­gress Makes 25 Mil­lion Records From Its Cat­a­log Free to Down­load

Large Archive of Han­nah Arendt’s Papers Dig­i­tized by the Library of Con­gress: Read Her Lec­tures, Drafts of Arti­cles, Notes & Cor­re­spon­dence

Get­ty Images Makes 35 Mil­lion Pho­tos Free to Use Online

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.


Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” Gets Released on Instagram as a Digital “Insta Novel”: It’s Free from The New York Public Library

Back in August, we high­light­ed a new ini­tia­tive by the New York Pub­lic Library. An insti­tu­tion that’s hip with our times, the NYPL released on Insta­gram a dig­i­tal ver­sion of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land. Now, in the Hal­loween spir­it, comes a dig­i­tal adap­ta­tion of Edgar Allan Poe’s clas­sic tale, “The Raven.” They write:

“The Raven” includes a unique series of ani­ma­tions pro­duced by Psy­op and Stu­dio AKA that takes read­ers on an omi­nous pro­ces­sion through a stark psy­cho­log­i­cal land­scape where the dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives of both the Raven and Poe’s pro­tag­o­nist are depict­ed. The view­points steadi­ly inter­cut and con­verge as the ani­ma­tion builds to its dis­qui­et­ing cli­max, as the door creaks open reveal­ing “dark­ness there and noth­ing more.”

Read “The Raven” on Insta­gram here. And keep an eye out for NYPL’s upcom­ing adap­ta­tion of “The Meta­mor­pho­sis” by Franz Kaf­ka. It’s due out by the end of the year.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

900 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Hear Clas­sic Read­ings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vin­cent Price, James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Win­ning Short Film That Mod­ern­izes Poe’s Clas­sic Tale

The Raven: a Pop-up Book Brings Edgar Allan Poe’s Clas­sic Super­nat­ur­al Poem to 3D Paper Life

Gus­tave Doré’s Splen­did Illus­tra­tions of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

A Read­ing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebri­ty Voic­es

The Grate­ful Dead Pays Trib­ute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Con­cert: Hear “Raven Space”


RIP Todd Bol, Founder of the Little Free Library Movement: He Leaves Behind 75,000 Small Libraries That Promote Reading Worldwide

“The Lit­tle Free Library: Bil­lions and bil­lions read.”

In the 2013 Ted‑X talk above, Todd Bol, founder of the Lit­tle Free Library move­ment, expressed the desire that one day, he might be able to boast that his labor of love had sur­passed McDon­alds with regard to the num­ber of cus­tomers’ served.

It’s clos­ing in…

Bol, who passed away ear­li­er this month, was inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s mis­sion of repay­ing his own good for­tune by estab­lish­ing 2,509 free pub­lic libraries.

The Lit­tle Free Libraries are vast­ly more numer­ous if less impos­ing than Carnegie’s state­ly edi­fices.

Some, like the pro­to­type Bol craft­ed with lum­ber sal­vaged from a garage door in his late mother’s hon­or, resem­ble doll hous­es.

One in Detroit is a dead ringer for Doc­tor Who’s TARDIS.

There’s a bright yel­low one embla­zoned with char­ac­ters from The Simp­sons, auto­graphed by series cre­ator Matt Groen­ing.

Oth­ers are housed in repur­posed suit­cas­es, stor­age cab­i­nets, or news­pa­per hon­or box­es.

While the non-prof­it Lit­tle Free Library store sells sev­er­al stur­dy, weath­er­proof mod­els and its web­site hosts a healthy col­lec­tion of blue­prints and tips for DIY­ers, Bol was nev­er doc­tri­naire about the aes­thet­ics, pre­fer­ring to leave that up to each vol­un­teer stew­ard.

He seemed proud­est of the libraries’ com­mu­ni­ty build­ing effect (though he was also pret­ty chuffed when Read­er’s Digest ranked the project above Bruce Spring­steen in its 2013 fea­ture ”50 Sur­pris­ing Rea­sons We Love Amer­i­ca.” )

While not entire­ly devoid of naysay­ers, the good­will sur­round­ing the Lit­tle Free Library move­ment can­not be under­es­ti­mat­ed.

A stew­ard who post­ed news of his dog’s death on the side of his library received sym­pa­thy cards from neigh­bors both known and unknown to him.

A stew­ard who spe­cial­izes in giv­ing away cook­books, and invites patrons to snip herbs from an adja­cent gar­den, fre­quent­ly wakes to find home­made quiche and oth­er good­ies on the doorstep.

And when an arson­ist torched a Lit­tle Free Library in Indi­anapo­lis, the com­mu­ni­ty ral­lied, vow­ing to get enough dona­tions to replace it with 100 more.

To date, stew­ards have reg­is­tered over 75,000, in 85 coun­tries, in ser­vice of Bol’s “Take a book, Leave a book” phi­los­o­phy.

Find a Lit­tle Free Library near you, learn how to become a stew­ard, or make a dona­tion on the project’s web­site.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The New York Pub­lic Library Lets Patrons Check Out Ties, Brief­cas­es & Hand­bags for Job Inter­views

The Rise and Fall of the Great Library of Alexan­dria: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion

Down­load 150 Free Col­or­ing Books from Great Libraries, Muse­ums & Cul­tur­al Insti­tu­tions: The British Library, Smith­son­ian, Carnegie Hall & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Novem­ber 12 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The New York Public Library Lets Patrons Check Out Ties, Briefcases & Handbags for Job Interviews

Once upon a time, pubic libraries’ cir­cu­lat­ing col­lec­tions were lim­it­ed to books and oth­er print­ed mate­ri­als.

Then audio record­ings and movies entered into the mix.


Board games…

There’s a library in Ohio that lets its patrons check out gui­tars.

And now, New York Pub­lic Library card­hold­ers can bor­row a neck­tie, brief­case, or busi­nesslike purse for a one-time, three-week lend­ing peri­od.

The New York Pub­lic Library Grow Up pro­gram at the River­side branch is mod­eled on sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives in Philadel­phia and Queens.

The branch is sit­u­at­ed across the street from two high schools, and librar­i­an Thad­deus Krupo told Crain’s New York Busi­ness that the pro­gram was launched in response to the high num­ber of stu­dents tak­ing advan­tage of the library’s free career resources, such as print­ed sheets of job inter­view tips.

Most of the kids from Fiorel­lo H. Laguardia High School Of Music & Art and Per­form­ing Arts (aka the “Fame” school), one of New York City’s most com­pet­i­tive pub­lic schools, can be pre­sumed to have a tie or two in their clos­ets, along with what­ev­er else they’re required to wear onstage for their var­i­ous con­certs and per­for­mances. They’re also being trained in how to present them­selves in an audi­tion-type sit­u­a­tion.

Such uni­ver­sal assump­tions don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly apply to the mas­sive Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Edu­ca­tion­al Com­plex next door. Stu­dents there tend to have a rougher time of it than their neigh­bors across 65th street.

While Laguardia coasts on its rep­u­ta­tion, MLK has nev­er real­ly got­ten out from under the trou­bling sto­ries left over from its bad old days. (Its orig­i­nal incar­na­tion was ordered closed in 2005 as part of sweep­ing city­wide edu­ca­tion­al reforms. These days, the build­ing hous­es sev­en small­er schools.)

Hope­ful­ly, the library’s teen patrons won’t seek to com­plete their pro­fes­sion­al look by check­ing out pants and pumps. The Grow Up pro­gram isn’t set up to pro­vide the full-body cov­er­age offered by like­mind­ed non-prof­its Dress for Suc­cess and Career Gear… though its bor­rowed bags and ties are cleared to attend prom and grad­u­a­tion.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New York Pub­lic Library Card Now Gives You Free Access to 33 NYC Muse­ums

Med­i­ta­tion is Replac­ing Deten­tion in Baltimore’s Pub­lic Schools, and the Stu­dents Are Thriv­ing

100 Nov­els All Kids Should Read Before Leav­ing High School

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 24 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Conserve the Sound, an Online Museum Preserves the Sounds of Past Technologies–from Typewriters, Electric Shavers and Cassette Recorders, to Cameras & Classic Nintendo

The unmis­tak­able zip and whirr of a rotary phone, the ungod­ly squeal of dial-up modems, the sat­is­fy­ing thunk of a car­tridge in a clas­sic Nin­ten­do con­sole, a VCR rewind­ing, the click-clack sound of a Walk­man’s but­tons…. I date myself in say­ing that these sounds imme­di­ate­ly send me back to var­i­ous moments in my child­hood with Prous­t­ian immer­sion. The sense of smell is most close­ly linked to mem­o­ry, but hear­ing can­not be far behind giv­en how sound embeds itself in time, and most espe­cial­ly the sounds of tech­nolo­gies, which are by nature fat­ed for obso­les­cence. A muse­um-qual­i­ty aura sur­rounds the Walk­man and the first iPods. These are tri­umphs of con­sumer design, but only one of them makes dis­tinc­tive mechan­i­cal nois­es.

As ana­log recedes, it can seem that noisy tech in gen­er­al becomes more and more dat­ed. It is hard to hear the rub­bing of thumbs and fin­gers across screens and touch­pads. Voice com­mands make but­tons and switch­es redun­dant. How much tech from now will one day fea­ture in Con­serve the Sound, the “online muse­um for van­ish­ing and endan­gered sounds”?

Its col­lec­tion gives the impres­sion of a bygone age, quaint in its dozens of exam­ples of mechan­i­cal inge­nu­ity. The visu­al jux­ta­po­si­tion of hand­held film cam­eras, type­writ­ers, car win­dow han­dles, elec­tric shavers, boom box­es, stop­watch­es, and so on has the effect of mak­ing these things seem all of a piece, assort­ed arti­facts in a great hall of won­ders called “the Sound the 20th Cen­tu­ry.”

At the top of the site’s “Sound” page, time­line nav­i­ga­tion allows users to vis­it every decade from the 1910s to the 2000s, a cat­e­go­ry that con­tains only two objects. Oth­er dis­plays are more plen­ti­ful, and col­or­ful. The 1960s, for exam­ple show­cas­es the incred­i­bly sexy red Schreib­mas­chine Olivet­ti Dora fur­ther up. It sounds as sleek and sophis­ti­cat­ed as it looks. The vir­tu­al dis­play case of the 30s holds the sounds of a twin-engine pro­peller plane and a hand­ful of beau­ti­ful mov­ing and still cam­eras, like the Fotokam­era Pur­ma Spe­cial above. It also fea­tures the hum­ble and endur­ing library stamp, a sound I pine for as I slide books under the self-check­out laser scan­ner at my local branch.

Giv­en just the few images here, you can already see that Con­serve the Sound is as much a feast for the eyes as for the ears, each object lov­ing­ly pho­tographed against an aus­tere white back­ground. In order for the full nos­tal­gic effect to work, how­ev­er, you need to vis­it these pages and hit “play.” It even mag­i­cal­ly works with objects from before our times, giv­en how promi­nent­ly their sounds fea­ture in film and audio record­ings that define the peri­ods. You’ve like­ly also noticed how many of these prod­ucts are of Euro­pean ori­gin, and many of them, like the robot­ic head of the Kas­set­ten­reko­rder Wel­tron Mod­el 2004, are per­haps unfa­mil­iar to many con­sumers from else­where in the world.

Con­serve the Sound is a Euro­pean project, fund­ed by the Film & Medi­en­s­tiftung NRW in Ger­many, thus its selec­tion skews toward Euro­pean-made prod­ucts. But the sound of a fan or an adding machine in Ger­many is the sound of a fan or adding machine in Chile, Chi­na, Kenya, or Nebras­ka. See a trail­er for the project at the top of the post, and below, one of the many inter­views in which Ger­man pub­lic fig­ures, schol­ars, librar­i­ans, tech­ni­cians, and stu­dents answer ques­tions about their mnemon­ic asso­ci­a­tions with tech­no­log­i­cal sound. In this inter­view, radio pre­sen­ter Bian­ca Hau­da describes one of her favorite old sounds from a favorite old machine, a 1970s portable cas­sette recorder.

via WFMU

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Library’s “Sounds” Archive Presents 80,000 Free Audio Record­ings: World & Clas­si­cal Music, Inter­views, Nature Sounds & More

Bri­an Eno Once Com­posed Music for Win­dows 95; Now He Lets You Cre­ate Music with an iPad App

Cor­nell Launch­es Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Ani­mal Sounds, with Record­ings Going Back to 1929

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The New York Public Library Puts Classic Stories on Instagram: Start with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis Soon

I’d be hap­py if I could think that the role of the library was sus­tained and even enhanced in the age of the com­put­er. —Bill Gates

The New York Pub­lic Library excels at keep­ing a foot in both worlds, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to engag­ing younger read­ers.

Vis­i­tors from all over the world make the pil­grim­age to see the real live Win­nie-the-Pooh and friends in the main branch’s hop­ping children’s cen­ter.

And now any­one with a smart­phone and an Insta­gram account can “check out” their dig­i­tal age take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­landno library card required. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Work­ing with the design firm Moth­er, the library has found a way to make great page-turn­ing use of the Insta­gram Sto­ries plat­formmore com­mon­ly used to share blow-by-blow pho­to­graph­ic evi­dence of road trips, restau­rant out­ings, and hash-tagged wed­dings.

The Won­der­land expe­ri­ence remains pri­mar­i­ly text-based.

In oth­er words, sor­ry, har­ried care­givers! There’s no hand­ing your phone off to the pre-read­ing set this time around!

No trip­py Dis­ney teacups…

Sir John Ten­niel’s clas­sic illus­tra­tions won’t be spring­ing to ani­mat­ed life. Instead, you’ll find con­cep­tu­al artist Magoz’s bright min­i­mal­ist ding­bats of key­holes, teacups, and pock­et watch­es in the low­er right hand cor­ner. Tap your screen in rapid suc­ces­sion and they func­tion as a crowd-pleas­ing, all ages flip book.

Else­where, ani­ma­tion allows the text to take on clever shapes or reveal itself line by linea pleas­ant­ly the­atri­cal, Cheshire Cat like approach to Carroll’s impu­dent poet­ry.

Remem­ber the famous scene where the Duchess and the Cook force Alice to mind a baby who turns into a pig? Grab some friends and hunch over the phone for a com­mu­nal read aloud! (It’s on page 75 of part 1)

Speak rough­ly to your lit­tle boy,

 And beat him when he sneezes:

 He only does it to annoy,

 Because he knows it teas­es


 (In which the cook and the baby joined)

 ‘Wow! wow! wow!’ 

Nav­i­gat­ing this new media can be a bit con­fus­ing for those whose social media flu­en­cy is not quite up to speed, but it’s not hard once you get the hang of the con­trols.

Tap­ping the right side of the screen turns the page.

Tap­ping left goes back a page.

And keep­ing a thumb (or any fin­ger, actu­al­ly) on the screen will keep the page as is until you’re ready to move on. You’ll def­i­nite­ly want to do this on ani­mat­ed pages like the one cit­ed above. Pre­tend you’re play­ing the flute and you’ll save a lot of frus­tra­tion.

The library plans to intro­duce your phone to Char­lotte Perkins Gilman’s short sto­ry “The Yel­low Wall­pa­per” and Franz Kafka’s The Meta­mor­pho­sis via Insta­gram Sto­ries over the next cou­ple of months. Like Alice, both works are in the pub­lic domain and share an appro­pri­ate com­mon theme: trans­for­ma­tion.

Use these links to go direct­ly to part 1 and part 2 of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land on Insta­gram Sto­ries. Both parts are cur­rent­ly pinned to the top of the library’s Insta­gram account.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Behold Lewis Carroll’s Orig­i­nal Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed Man­u­script for Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land (1864)

Alice in Won­der­land: The Orig­i­nal 1903 Film Adap­ta­tion

The Psy­cho­log­i­cal & Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders Expe­ri­enced by Char­ac­ters in Alice in Won­der­land: A Neu­ro­science Read­ing of Lewis Carroll’s Clas­sic Tale

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 24 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

New York Public Library Card Now Gives You Free Access to 33 NYC Museums

If you’re one of the 8.5 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in New York City, take note of this: When you sign up for a library card from the New York Pub­lic Library, you can get access to 30,000 free movies (includ­ing many from the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion) and also some 300,000 Free eBooks. But that’s not all. A new ini­tia­tive lets mem­bers of the New York Pub­lic Library (plus the Brook­lyn and Queens libraries) to sign up for a Cul­ture Pass and there­by gain free entrance to 33 muse­ums across NYC. The list of par­tic­i­pat­ing muse­ums includes some big ones–the Met, Mor­gan, Whit­ney, Frick and Guggen­heim. Also the MoMA, Brook­lyn Muse­um, and Brook­lyn Botan­ic Gar­den, and more. Find a com­plete list below.

The Cul­ture Pass web­site has more infor­ma­tion about this new pro­gram. The web­site is also where you will need to actu­al­ly make reser­va­tions to vis­it the muse­ums. Accord­ing to Hyper­al­ler­gic, “Each card­hold­er is eli­gi­ble for one pass per cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion annu­al­ly and allowed to reserve two impend­ing vis­its at any giv­en time.”

New York­ers, you can sign up for library cards via these links: New York Pub­lic Library, Brook­lyn Library, and Queens Library.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Par­tic­i­pat­ing Muse­ums

  • Brook­lyn Botan­ic Gar­den
  • Brook­lyn Chil­dren’s Muse­um
  • Brook­lyn His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety
  • Brook­lyn Muse­um
  • Chil­dren’s Muse­um of Man­hat­tan
  • Chil­dren’s Muse­um of the Arts
  • Coop­er Hewitt, Smith­son­ian Design Muse­um
  • The Draw­ing Cen­ter
  • The Frick Col­lec­tion
  • His­toric Rich­mond Town
  • Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter of Pho­tog­ra­phy
  • Intre­pid Sea, Air & Space Muse­um
  • Jacques Mar­chais Muse­um of Tibetan Art
  • The Jew­ish Muse­um
  • Louis Arm­strong House
  • The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art
  • The Mor­gan Library & Muse­um
  • Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, MoMA PS1
  • Muse­um of Chi­nese in Amer­i­ca
  • Muse­um of Jew­ish Her­itage — A Liv­ing Memo­r­i­al to the Holo­caust
  • Muse­um of the City of New York
  • New York Tran­sit Muse­um
  • Noguchi Muse­um
  • Queens His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety
  • Queens Muse­um
  • Rubin Muse­um of Art
  • Sculp­ture­Cen­ter
  • Smith­son­ian Nation­al Muse­um of the Amer­i­can Indi­an
  • Soci­ety of Illus­tra­tors
  • Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um
  • Sug­ar Hill Chil­dren’s Muse­um
  • Wave Hill
  • Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New York­ers Can Now Stream 30,000 Free Movies, Includ­ing the Entire Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion, with Their Library Cards

The New York Pub­lic Library Lets Patrons Down­load 300,000 eBooks

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.