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If you miss visiting the library, try the Internet Archive’s new virtual browsing tool.

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January 11, 2021, 1:26pm

It’s been a bad year for libraries and those who love them. Despite some interesting tech innovations (we could have been cleaning our books with UV rays this whole time!), many temporarily reopened libraries are closing again due to surging COVID numbers and COVID exposures, and many other libraries are only open for online order and curbside pickup. This is wise, of course—but it’s safe to say that the experience of comfortably browsing the shelves is gone for the time being.

If you’re missing your library experience, here’s a cute substitute: the incredibly useful non-profit library Internet Archive has released Library Explorer, a virtual library which allows you to scroll through cute graphic “shelves” for each subject, books ordered by call number, to simulate the experience of browsing in person. The display is customizable, so your books can look 3D or flat, and you can also use more “internet”-y tools like browsing by era, subject, author, and other criteria.

I’ve tried out the tool, and though it admittedly doesn’t come close to the full-body library experience, it’s charming; its simple graphics remind me of children’s educational computer games. (Kid Pix, anyone?) But why take my word for it? Experience it for yourself here.

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