When's the last time you thought, "Gee, I really miss scrolling around with a nice microfiche?" Between those and the Dewey decimal system, who's got the time to mess with libraries anymore? Well, who else but college kids, that is. The college library will always be an indispensible feature of higher education, providing the study materials students need and the place to peruse them. But the future is digital, and iPads are a great way to bridge the gap between traditional libraries and the developing world of e-reading. Here are the 25 best library apps to invest in.
- My Library
For $4, your iPad becomes the memory center for your personal book, CD, and movie libraries. Catalog your books by scanning the ISBN with your iPad camera, track who you loaned books to, and get access to free eBooks.
- Book Crawler
Book Crawler takes book cataloging to new heights with cool features like reviews and local library availability when you scan the barcode, Dropbox support for backing up your info, and location awareness to see what others around you are reading and strike up online (or real-world) discussions.
- Library Books
If you're forgetful, this $3 app will pay for itself pretty quickly. It can track multiple library cards and let you know when you've got a book coming due. (Check to make sure your library is covered before purchasing.)
- OverDrive Media Console
This free app gives you access to more than 18,000 libraries worldwide and lets you "check out" audiobooks and eBooks with a valid card. The titles expire on their own, so you don't have to sweat late fees.
- GoodReader for iPad
Mashable called this the "Swiss army knife of awesome." It's got quick, smooth handling of huge PDF and text files and even lets you make notes on PDFs. You can also wirelessly sync between folders and devices and annotate with a slew of editing tools.
- MeeGenius! Kid's Books
Bring a children's library to you with this free app featuring more than 300 titles. Turn your kids into little geniuses with the read-along technology that highlights and narrates words to help them learn.
- BookBuddy Lite
This app lets you share your book library over social media like Facebook and Twitter. You can also create custom categories for organizing your titles. And best of all, it's free.
You knew there'd be an iBooks. This one lets you bookmark and take notes, find free samples of any book in the iBookstore before buying, and sync your books and PDFs to your other iOS devices.
Some people actually prefer using Amazon's Kindle app for reading eBooks to Apple readers. It's a simple way to access the more than 1 million titles the online retailer has for sale, plus more than 400 magazines and newspapers. Change your background color, font, font size, and more to customize your reading experience.
This long-time favorite of iPhone users is now on the iPad. It's a free app that lets you peruse 50,000 titles from partner stores and 50,000 more free classics available thanks to Project Gutenberg, then store and categorize them once you've got them.
- ICDL- Free Books For Children
Give your kids a taste of literature from around the world with the International Children's Digital Library app. There are free books from 60-plus countries with beautiful illustrations and English story summaries and titles from as far back as the 1800s.
For the next best thing to researching in the library, try this no-cost app from the American Institute of Physics. You'll get access to scholarly journals like Journal of Applied Physics and Applied Physics Letters, whose articles you can then download with a personal subscription or a school access subscription, if your school has one.
Kobo is a free app that's packed with fun features, like the ability to share passages with friends and see what books they recommend. Kobo also lets you add books, both pay and free, to your library from email, Dropbox, or the web, and the reading experience is highly customizable.
- NYPL Biblion: World's Fair
This is the first app in a series that will be released by the New York Public Library to bring their famous research collections to a wide audience. You'll find amazing documents, pictures, audio, and videos from the 1939-1940 World's Fair.
Study like a Cornell student with the help of this reference app. The school's database hosts more than 500,000 PDFs of texts in the fields of math, science, physics, biology, and others that you can search by category. It's like Microfiche 2.0.
From the Social Sciences Research Network, this is a great reference tool for social sciences and humanities students. More than 260,000 research papers are at your fingertips for viewing or emailing with this free app.
- Mobile Abstracts
PubMed is a database operated by the National Library of Medicine and hosts more than 20 million medical journal abstracts. With this $.99 app you can search and view abstracts as PDFs for research. It'll save your searches for you and let you bookmark articles you want to keep.
- Free Books
The name's a bit misleading, as the app costs $1.99. But once you fork that over you've got exactly 23,469 free books waiting to be downloaded to your iPad. There are no limits and no download caps.
- Local Books
Book lovers from librarything.com love this app that's like Urban Spoon for books. It guides you to nearby libraries, bookstores, and upcoming literary events, but the fun part is socializing with other bibliophiles.
- ACS Mobile
The American Chemical Society was nice enough to create this free app so that any interested students can have up-to-the-minute updates on scholarly articles published across a range of industry journals. Currently the database is at 850,000 articles and counting.
- British Library 19th Century Collection
Similar to the NYPL collections app, this program delivers fascinating looks at books, engraved illustrations and maps, and other historic pieces from the 1800s. The app is free, and for a small monthly subscription you'll have access to more than 60,000 titles.
- WorldCat Mobile
MapQuest meets iBooks with this app that will let you search local libraries for a particular title and then map you out the fastest route to the library with that book in stock.
This is the library app that started it all. The District of Columbia Public Library system made the source code for their app available to other libraries to make their own apps. If you live in the area of a library using this type of app, you can find nearby libraries, make and modify orders, and find reviews and recommendations for popular books.
- IOPscience Express
This gratis app from IOP Publishing (Institute of Physics) allows you to download up to 20 recently-published scholarly papers each month. Easily search by author name, journal name, or topic and find the data you need to make your report perfect.
For those occasions you need a library but it's after hours, try this app. AML uses your location to find libraries nearby and then allows you access to those libraries' online resources.