By Meredith Schwartz:
"The home base for the New York Public Library (NYPL) Labs is a strange mix of old and new. A bunch of modern cubicles hover incongruously amid the stately marble walls of what used to be a courtyard in the venerable Schwarzman Building, before the need for more space convinced the library to press it into service. It’s not a bad metaphor for what the labs do: turn the library’s substantial historical holdings into something new, useful, and a little bit quirky.
Thus far, the labs has spearheaded four projects, all of them aimed at not only digitizing physical collections but at turning their digital versions into data that can be sliced and diced with all of today’s tools. Ben Vershbow, manager of NYPL Labs, sees the first stage of his mission as “extending the machine-readable data so it can be recontextualized—the library as data clearinghouse.” As a vision, it adheres more strictly to the library’s traditional role of information collector and provider than many of today’s library reinventions—library as community center, for example. At the same time, it removes the “book warehouse” or even “digital book virtual warehouse” connotations by giving the library a front and center role in parsing the data into meaningful categories that make it usable."