The New York Public Library Opens a ‘Virtual Branch’ on Instagram and Launches a Reading Recommendation Project Using Augmented Reality Technology
The virtual branch— a custom designed interactive AR (Augmented Reality) Effect accessible via Instagram Reels is the centerpiece of #NYPLSummerBookshelf, a new initiative to spark a love of reading, encourage summer reads, and promote public libraries.
Celebrities, authors, and influencers including actress Rachel Bloom, author Min Jin Lee, influencer and author Eva Chen, Meta chief business officer Marne Levine, and others are participating, sharing video reading recommendations from the virtual lending library. Those videos will be shared on the Library’s channel (@nypl) and their own channels throughout the summer.
This is how to participate:
- Open Instagram Reels. Click the three stars above the record button and search “NYPL” in the effects library.
- You will see yourself inside of a virtual branch, designed with inspiration from the Library’s newly transformed central circulating branch, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL). The space also nods towards the Library’s research collections. For example, a stuffed bear on a shelf is meant to be the original Winnie-The-Pooh: the bear that was once owned by the real-life Christopher Robin and inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh stories. That item—as well as millions of others—are part of the Library’s research collections; Winnie is currently on display at the free Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures at the 42nd Street Library.
- Look around to find your favorite spot in our virtual branch to use as a background.
- Press and hold the record button. Tell us who you are and what your favorite summer read is. Even better, show us your book!
- When you’re done filming, post the video to your account. Make sure to tag it with #NYPLSummerBookshelf so @NYPL can help spread the word!
- As always, don’t forget to add closed captions to make sure everyone can enjoy your post. Before uploading, click on the square with a smiley face, then select the “Captions” icon, and Instagram will do the rest.
- All of the recommendations taken together create what the Library believes to be the first-ever virtual “bookshelf” of recommendations on Instagram.
“This project is a new, exciting, innovative new way for The New York Public Library to further spark excitement about books and reading,” said Brian Bannon, the Library’s Merryl and James Tisch Director of Branch Libraries and Education. “To use Instagram’s incredible AR technology to create a welcoming digital space where everyone can discuss books, share recommendations, and possibly connect with their next great summer read—that’s right up our alley. We’re always trying new things to encourage reading and further the work we do in our branches every day. We hope people visit our virtual branch and try this one out.”
The #NYPLSummerBookshelf is a virtual addition to NYPL’s Summer at the Library initiative (nypl.org/summer) to offer New York kids, teens, and their families a series of free programs, challenges, and book giveaways to entertain, spark a lifelong love of reading and learning, and help students combat “summer slide”—when they forget what they learned in the summer months while outside the classroom.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.