Last week, an approved application that gives mobile users access to the United States Library of Congress Experience went live in the iTunes App Store. The app is compatible with iOS 3.1 on up and will run on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
The new app (iTunes link) won’t provide avid Twitter users access to their archived tweets just yet, unfortunately, nor will it enable mobile users to go deep into the digitized archives of the world’s largest library, but it will extend the award-winning virtual experience to tens of millions of mobile users.
Three Library of Congress staff designed the app working part-time, said Matt Raymond, director of communications for the Library of Congress, in an email interview. “Doing it in-house makes a cost approximation quite difficult,” he said.
When users download the free app, they can take a virtual tour of the library and its collections. The app joins the efforts the Library of Congress has already made at myLOC.gov, where users can collect historical artifacts in a customized page.
Each section of the app has tabs for video, audio, pictures and related links to external sites. My iPhone 4 was able to quickly download and play a beautiful video short on Thomas Jefferson after an easy install and sync.
While the offerings on the Library of Congress are limited, relative to the immense collections housed in the main archives, students and curious citizens now have a lightweight, free options to learn more about their nation’s history. The release of the app won’t change the nature of fair use in the United States but it will enlighten an increasingly mobile population.
Raymond said that they are looking at other mobile platforms for the app but have no plans at this time to port it over. Although Raymond said that it’s unlikely that Library of Congress will add more resources to the app, they’re working on other applications that will feature additional resources. “The wealth of digital content in the Library and the accelerating growth in the mobile Web suggest a need to continue exploring these areas,” he said.