The New York Public Library (NYPL) has launched Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle, the second edition of its free “Biblion: The Boundless Library” app for iPads. The app was developed in an effort to give more people access to the library’s research collections, and encourage them to explore those collections in unique ways. The first edition, released in May 2011 focused on NYPL’s extensive collection of materials from the 1939-40 World’s Fair, and won Apple’s Education App of the Year award.
“The latest edition … identifies themes in the Gothic novel Frankenstein—such as whether or not technology is inherently evil—and shows how they are relevant to collections and programs across NYPL today: basically, showing how the classics live on and evolve,” NYPL senior press representative Jonathan Pace explained in an e-mail.
Released on June 7 on iTunes, the new Frankenstein Biblion gives users the opportunity to explore over 500 rare collection items, plus 750 pages of primary source documents, including Mary Shelley’s 1816-17 original handwritten draft of Frankenstein, which NYPL currently has on loan from Oxford’s Bodleian Library. That draft is paired with a transcript of her revised 1831 edition—the best known version—allowing users to see how each page was edited over time.
The app also includes an original graphic novel about Mary Shelly’s life, rare photos of Hollywood incarnations of Frankenstein, a social reading function allowing users to discuss the material within the app, a dramatic reading from the book by actor A.J. Stetson, a prison inmates reading group discussing the book and who can be called a “monster” courtesy of NYPL’s Correctional Services Program, and more.
“The Library plays a key role in extending the life of great works of literature through collections that inspire new ideas about the classics, and branch programs that highlight issues connecting works to the modern day,” NYPL president Tony Marx said in a release. “Biblion is a shining example of how we can bring a classic like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to life.”