May 25, 2022

New York Public Library Releases A New App For Android

It’s the first public release of an Android only app (at least at this time) named Libretto.

Since we use iOS we haven’t been unable to use the app that only became available in the past day or so.

What is it?


Source: via Google Play

Here’s some of what Doug Reside, Digital Curator of Performing Arts, Library for the Performing Arts from NYPL Labs has to say in an introductory blog post:

When I initially proposed this app, I gave it the code name M.O.V.E.R. (the “Multimodal Open-Source Variorum EBook Reader”), but wiser heads prevailed over the last few months, and we renamed the app, simply, Libretto. Still, the earlier name does describe the functionality of the app well.

Because the texts of musicals are very open and sometimes exist across multiple versions (think Show Boat or Anything Goes), this app allows you compare different editions of the script as you are reading simply by swiping right or left. In the world of textual scholarship, a book that publishes multiple, differing copies of the same basic text is called a “Variorum Edition.” This app is a multimodal variorum edition because it communicates in two different modes: audio and textual. You can compare different versions of the text AND different versions of the music.

For testing purpose for this initial release, we are providing a variorum edition of the 1866 American melodrama, The Black Crook, which some historians may have once believed to be the first American musical. Although the extant scripts for this piece differ very little, the music that was used in its many revivals changed frequently. The e-book is bundled with 10 recordings (most with sheet music) of music associated with the first production in 1866. However, if you like, you can also substitute music from later productions by downloading the music [linked in the blog Reside’s blog post] and using the app to select it instead.

The code for Libretto is open and available on GitHub.

Read the Complete Blog Post for More Info Including What Inspired this App.

Version 1.0 of Libretto is now available from Google Play. The app is free to download and use

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.