NYPL Labs, started in 2011, has been known for experimental projects aimed at spurring users’ own tweaks and remixes. One scholar used its What’s on the Menu? project, which enlisted library users to transcribe its collection of 45,000 New York City restaurant menus, to create a new “data curation” of the collection. An engineer at Google has created a Google Cardboard application for its Stereogranimator, a program designed to mimic the proto-3-D effects of old-fashioned stereogram viewers.
Items from the digital collections have also found their way into projects like Urban Scratch-Off, a “map hack” that lets users scratch an aerial photograph of New York, lottery-ticket style, to reveal aerial shots of the city in 1924, and Mapping Cholera, which tracks an 1832 epidemic using geodata harvested from maps belonging to the library.
The new release will “reduce friction and make it even easier for people to get their hands on out-of-copyright material” owned by the library, Mr. Vershbow said.