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British Library launch 19th Century Historical Collection App for iPad

Friday, June 10th, 2011

A few days ago the SFU Library launched our Summer Time Reading blog, a place to post suggestions from the SFU community on some great summer reads.   Elaine Fairey, Director of the Student Learning Commons, is brushing up on her Dickens by reading Nicolas Nickelby this summer.  Imagine being able to read a 19th century edition of a Dickens classic from the beach – now you can!

The British Library has just launched a new app for the Apple iPad which allows you to read over 1,000 books published in the 19th century, in fields ranging from travel writing and natural history to fiction and philosophy.

From the British Library press release:

Currently the app features over a thousand 19th Century books, but it will provide access to more than 60,000 titles by later this summer when details on pricing for the service will be announced. The 60,000 books, which are all in the public domain, are part of the British Library’s 19th Century Historical Collection and span numerous languages and subject areas including titles such as “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “The Adventures of Oliver Twist” [with plates] by Charles Dickens.

“We are excited to bring this historical book project of this nature to iPad users around the world,” said Mitchell Davis, a founder of BiblioLabs. “iPad allows for a level of intimacy with these antiquarian books that evokes a sense of engagement and curiosity that is not possible in a browser based experience.”

“We are delighted that the Library’s partnership with BiblioLabs is going to make this remarkable collection of 19th Century books available to iPad users, making them visible and accessible to a much wider audience than could ever be possible through our reading rooms,” said Caroline Brazier, the British Library’s Director of Scholarship and Collections. “These books provide a wealth of historical, scientific and cultural content for the researcher and more general enthusiast alike, and this project helps bring them to life.”

Users can experience the British Library 19th Century Historical Collection App for free from the App Store on iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.