by Sam Spence
After cutting their teeth on the major worldwide rollout of their iPad multimedia curation app Bilblioboard for international clients like the British Library and the National Library of Colombia, the crew at BiblioLabs is hoping that a project closer to home will change the way South Carolina classrooms experience and learn from world around them.
BiblioLabs, the Charleston-based software firm spawned out of the Amazon.com buyout of local print-on-demand startup Booksurge (now Createspace), has spent the last few years polishing Biblioboard, building off the success of the 2011 British Library launch, which the company says clocked five million downloads and 65,000 subscribers monthly. As Biblioboard curated and delivered anthologies--collections of material on a similar subject--uploaded from British Library volumes at a frenetic pace, Biblioboard co-founder Mitchell Davis saw that their app was enabling a whole new ecosystem for consuming dead tree collections stashed in lock-and-key archives halfway around the world.
"We're trying to close the gap between the consumer media experience (Flipboard, Apple, etc.) and the digital experience from libraries," Davis says. "That's what we think is the biggest threat to libraries." With access to one-of-a-kind manuscripts and rare collections spreading to individuals worldwide thanks to Biblioboard, Davis says the effect became clear, "The app really democratized being able to distribute content."
With that in mind, the company recently kicked off Unlock SC, a crowdfunded campaign via fundingsc.com that they hope will begin to put Biblioboard in the hands of South Carolina schoolkids. "What if we could virtually put the world in our students' hands?" the campaign's promotional video asks, "We can." The campaign's initial goal of $15,000 would go toward expanding Biblioboard's reach schools in three of South Carolina's poorest counties (by per capita income): Dillon, Marlboro, and Clarendon. Any funding beyond that will go toward the company's goal of providing Biblioboard access to schools statewide.
Once Unlock SC reaches its fundraising goal by August 31, the company says it plans to subsidize most of the cost of the project, to the tune of more than 96 percent, hoping that the crowdfunding aspect serves to both engage area communities and to use the project as a trial balloon to see if crowdfunding projects like these is possible.
"We want to understand how to go about helping libraries to be able to begin digitizing their collections," says Jonah Canter, Biblioboard product manager, citing tightening budgetary limits for many libraries.
Canter says they plan to put Biblioboard in Dorchester District 2 high schools this fall as part of a pilot program, where AP history students will apply their studies in creation of a Biblioboard anthology for the course. The app has also gotten use in a handful of New England private schools.
"We want to create a ripple effect," says co-founder Davis, hoping that the success of Unlock SC will deliver the keys to getting Biblioboard into classrooms and libraries in nationwide.
To help Unlock SC, visit fundingsc.com before August 31.