New York Public Library Opens A New Virtual Bookshelf

The New York Public Library might have just created its largest branch with a new online bookshelf, encouraging readers to share their favorite book recommendations.

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After the New York Public Library gave away 500,000 books for free to kids, teens, and families at all of their branches this past June, they’re now expanding the library to the internet. According to Time Out, the NYPL is opening a virtual bookshelf branch as a part of their Summer At the Library initiative. The best part? The NYPL is calling for your book recommendations! Plus, your book recommendation could soon be available at participating NYPL branches. With the rise of Booktok and Bookstagram, we couldn’t be more excited to see what the online NYPL Bookshelf has in store for readers.

Summer Bookshelf

To kick off the summer, the New York Public Library encourages readers to share their favorite book recommendations with a worldwide audience on Instagram. How so? Well, the virtual bookshelf takes place through Instagram’s Reels under the Effect titled “Summer Bookshelf.” There, with a beautiful augmented reality effect (a bookshelf background), readers can find popular new books, bookish tips or share their next book recommendation!


As a reader, one of my favorite past times is sharing book recs with my friends or finding new books online, especially via Bookstagram. So, it’s no surprise the New York Public Library caught on to the growing virtual audience of book-lovers. The new Summer Bookshelf program offers readers a platform to share their love for reading in a whole new way, plus the opportunity to become a guest librarian in their virtual space. Summer Bookshelf is an expansion of The Summer at the Library initiative which aims to offer, not only community, but “free events and programs for all ages, book giveaways, our all-new Make Waves program for kids and teens, reading recommendations, and much more!”

It’s time to showcase your summer reads with a new virtual bookshelf. So far, Actress Rachel Bloom and Author Min Jin Lee have used the effect to recommend their recent reads. Bloom suggested her readers dive into The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays, while Lee recommended How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino. You never know what you might find on this virtual bookshelf.

How To Add Your Summer Read to the Virtual Bookshelf

For Instagram reels newbies, or long-time creators, we have step-by-step instructions on how to add your recommendation to the NYPL Summer Bookshelf.

  1. Open Instagram Reels, and press the Effects button above the record button.
  2. Use the search icon and look up “NYPL” in the effects library.
  3. Click on the effect titled “Summer Bookshelf” as it should have the NYPL lion icon.
  4. Look around the virtual library branch to find your favorite spot for a background.
  5. Once you’ve found your spot, press the button and start recording!
  6. Share your favorite summer read! (Don’t forget to use closed captions.)
  7. Post the video to your account and make sure to use #NYPLSummerBookshelf.

Plus, you can access the virtual library by pressing on the name of the effect and “view effect page.” You can also find the Instagram effect here. There, you’ll find recommendations by authors, librarians, and hopefully, some of your friends! Additionally, you can check out other people’s book recommendations by using the hashtag #NYPLSummerBookshelf.

Who knew a virtual bookshelf was next on our list for bookish trends? We couldn’t be happier to see the New York Public Library expand its audience and offer a virtual space for our large array of book recs. Finally, there’s a bookshelf that can withstand our book addiction.

To stay updated on all the latest bookish NYPL news, keep reading here.