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It’s Alive! The New York Public Library Launches Second Edition of Free Biblion App for iPad with Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle


Latest edition charts how the classics live on, inviting readers to join the afterlife of Frankenstein and the storied Shelley family

June 7, 2012— NYPL is proud to announce the new edition of its Biblion: The Boundless Library App for iPad— once again, breaking the boundaries of how we read, experience rare collection materials and, now, engage each other in a new form of community creation. Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle is now available on the App Store.

What makes a monster, or defines a human being? What is it like to live at the margins of society? Is technology inherently good or inherently bad? Nearly 200 years ago, in a rapidly industrializing Great Britain, these were some of the questions that guided Mary Shelley as she wrote Frankenstein. They remain just as powerful and relevant today. . . and we show you how.
It all starts from original sources—over 500 rare collection items, plus 750 individual pages of primary source documents—which you can hold right in your hand . . . including Mary Shelley’s 1816-17 handwritten draft of Frankenstein (on loan from the Bodleian Library), paired with transcript overlays of her revised 1831 edition of the novel, included in its entirety.
From these circles of unique materials, Biblion expands to present an ever-growing collection—of scholarship, stories, and, notably, discussions—literally illustrating how original works and ideas continue to surround us today. Plus, all-new features in this app connect fresh scholarship to the actual original sources that inspired our writers, simply with a turn of the device.
Biblion provides a world of information with endless pathways of discovery, as readers navigate between four timeless themes. Some highlights:
In “Shelley’s Ghost,”
  • Learn about the creative, highly unconventional lives of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his circle, and view the entire Esdaile Notebook of Shelley’s early poems.
  • Read an original graphic novel telling the story of Mary Shelley’s colorful life, and see how this biography ties to the visual creativity of women in the Romantic era.  
In “Frankenstein,”
  • Explore Hollywood incarnations of Frankenstein, including rarely seen photographs of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr., held by the Library for the Performing Arts.
  • Hear dramatic readings from Frankenstein by actor A. J. Stetson, from the Audio Book Studio at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.
In “Outsiders,”
  • Be inspired by revolutionaries who changed the world—see Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence draft, from our Manuscripts and Archives Division; and Nelson Mandela’s first official ANC statement, from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—and connect them back to Shelley’s impassioned call “To Liberty.”
  • Check out a prison inmates reading group discussing Frankenstein and just who can be called a “monster,” courtesy of NYPL’s Correctional Services Program.
In “Creation and Remix,”
  • Explore monster mash-ups, the pursuit of the spark of life, early scrapbooking, and more.
The circles of creation don’t stop there. An exciting social reading feature allows people to join in a new kind of ongoing community forum: “AskBiblion.” Throughout the app, stories encourage readers to answer questions tied to modern-day life; plus, users can pose questions back to the NYPL community... just as if they could ask everyone who checked out a certain book a question triggered by the story. As more people take part, these conversations will build into stories in and of themselves, continually expanding through updates to the app.
The goal is to inspire and engage readers to be part of the “afterlife” of the Shelleys and Frankenstein. . . through endless circles of original sources, stories, community building, and conversations. “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,” said Tony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “Biblion is a shining example of how we can bring a classic like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to life on iPad and online—with contributions from our writing fellows, teen fashion designers, and librarians specializing in science and technology, creative design, geospatial mapping, and more. . . all inspired by original source documents. With all this at their fingertips, readers can then participate in conversations within the app, further expanding the circles of scholarship. By tapping all of NYPL’s resources, from staff to collections to patrons, we are providing new ways of understanding and experiencing Frankenstein and Shelley’s circle.”
Biblion: The Boundless Library’s edition of Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle is available free from the App Store on iPad at; a web version is also available at
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers—housed, respectively, in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library—and 87 neighborhood libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website,
About Potion
Founded by graduates of the MIT Media Laboratory, Potion is a design and technology firm that specializes in interactive experiences. Potion seeks to expand the language of interactive design. We work tirelessly with our clients and always push ourselves to break new ground. Never satisfied to replicate experiences, Potion researches new technologies, new modes of interaction, and continually invents new ways of making this work. The company’s engineering heritage forces it to justify each move, each change, and each decision—grounding its designs in the real world. Potion’s design impulse drives it to play, to form and re-form, and to create work that is as elegant as it is innovative. Potion embraces an interdisciplinary process, bringing together architect-programmers, mathematician-writers, designer-musicians, and everything else in between. Potion believes that code is a medium for creative expression—the digital universe should dance and bloom in response to the human touch. It finds delight in the impossible. Potion loves the challenge and the magic. Potion knows that technology, crafted carefully, can be a force of good in the modern world.