Google recently announced updates to their Maps API script, with more updates planned this summer for their overall Maps platform.
The Free Library uses this API to display Google Maps in various locations on our website, most notably our Branch Map and Map Mosaic.
In preparation for Google's update, Free Library web development staff worked to upgrade the code and data displayed on the maps, as well as add some new usability features for our customers.
The branch map has been updated to perform like most common “store locators” found on popular retail websites.
You can now quickly view all library branches on the map at once or select which branches are open on Saturday, have a Book Drop, or are handicapped accessible.
When you click on an icon, you can see the branch address, phone number, and business hours. Customers can also type in their location and find their nearest library branches.
We've combined our map mosaic and HIP (Historical Images of Philadelphia) map into one robust and interactive digital map for customers to explore our vast collection of historical maps, digital images, and newly gathered map data for the Philadelphia region. You can select from 4 different Google Map displays: Road Map, Earth Satellite, Hybrid Map, and Terrain Map.
From the Historical Maps drop-down menu, you can select various historical maps to overlay on top of Google map of Philadelphia. The screenshot below is displaying 1934 Brewer Map of Philadelphia overlaid on top of a Google Road Map of Philadelphia.
From the Historical Images of Philadelphia drop-down menu, you can select from numerous neighborhoods and see historical images from bygone eras of Philadelphia.
We also added a new section entitled “Explore Philadelphia Today” which displays user-generated photos (via Panoramio) from around the entire city, Philly bicycle paths, and traffic in real-time.
We hope to add more helpful city services data and features to this section in the future (i.e. list of Philadelphia Public Schools, Hospitals, Parks, etc.).
There are many viewing options and configurations you can set on these maps, making it a truly immersive experience!
Try out our new map features and leave us some feedback below!
The Criterion Collection is widely known as one of the most eclectic film collections ever assembled. For close to 30 years, they've specialized in showcasing and curating cult, foreign, and critically acclaimed films, from classics to contemporary cinema.
In a day and age where special features on a movie's DVD or Blu-ray release really aren't always so "special" anymore, Criterion was the original pioneer of presenting special editions of films with the correct aspect ratio for home video viewing (i.e. "letterbox" / widescreen format), theatrical trailers, documentaries, bonus materials (deleted scenes, alternate takes, production stills, and artwork), and commentary tracks endorsed by and involving the filmmakers themselves.
Here's a "Friday Five" of some of the weirdest, funniest, trashiest, most "out-there" films in the Criterion Collection:
The very definition of a "cult classic," Alex Cox’s Repo Man ups the weird factor by mashing together sci-fi, comedy, action, Reagan-era politics, consumerism, nuclear war, punk rock, and... car repossession in desolate downtown L.A. Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez play off each other like the Odd Couple version of a buddy cop flick, both with enough quotable lines to last a lifetime ("The life of a Repo Man is always intense!"). Special features include a restored digital transfer of the film approved by the director, new audio commentaries and interviews with cast and crew, and a booklet featuring essays an amazingly illustrated production history by Cox. Lastly, this movie was produced by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees!
One of the classic creatures of the '50s sci fi and horror movie boom, The Blob is a gooey, gelatinous being from another world that crash lands in a small town in Pennsylvania (Phoenixville, represent!) and basically runs... er, slimes amok. Only one man in town can stay cool enough to save everyone, the "King of Cool" himself, Steve McQueen! It should be noted that another cool character wrote the groovy theme song for this film, legendary composer Burt Bacharach. Special features include a high-def digital restoration of the film, audio commentary with director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., the theatrical trailer, and Blobabilia!, a gallery of stills, posters, and props from the movie. This movie is so loved, the town of Phoenixville holds a Blobfest every year to celebrate!
David Cronenberg's Videodrome is a surreal sci-fi horror film about a cable access video feed showing extreme scenes of sex and violence that when watched not only takes over your mind, but also transforms your body (sometimes in grotesque fashion, a theme through most of Cronenberg's films). But is it real or is it all a hallucination? And who's behind the "Videodrome" signal? The mystery and madness draw Max Renn (James Woods) into a global conspiracy to find out. Years later, the film has become eerily prophetic with its social commentary on media. Special features include a high-def transfer of the unrated version of the film, audio commentaries with the director and stars James Woods and Deborah Harry, a documentary on Rick Baker's groundbreaking video and prosthetic makeup effects, and photo galleries featuring rare behind-the-scenes production photos. "Long Live The New Flesh!"
The very essence of D.I.Y., no-budget filmmaking, Slacker takes the viewer on a weird trip through an underground scene of artists, musicians, poets, and all around bohemians in Austin, Texas during the alternative heyday of the early '90s. There's really no plot in this movie, per se, but more a bunch of quirky vignettes featuring crazy characters that weave a larger narrative. Director / writer / producer Richard Linklater shot the film on 16mm for a mere $3,000, helping to launch the prolific independent film movement of the time. Special features include audio commentaries with Linklater and members of the cast and crew, casting tape “auditions” from the over one-hundred-member cast, a copy of the "script", and information about the Austin Film Society.
This highly entertaining and inventive film from Wes Anderson is a coming-of-age drama that plays like a slapstick comedy, and vice-versa. Private school student Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a legend in his own time--at least in his own mind. He's on the verge of getting expelled from school, until he meets a cantankerous millionaire (the hilarious Bill Murray), falls in love with a school teacher twice his age (Olivia Williams), and writes his magnum opus (yet completely and inappropriately over the top) play based on Vietnam, "Heaven and Hell". The soundtrack to the film, full of British Invasion-flavored garage rock, totally compliments the teenage loudness and adolescent awkwardness of its protagonist. Special features include a director’s cut of the film, audio commentary featuring the director, co-writer Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman, a "making-of" documentary, audition footage, and Anderson’s hand-drawn storyboards for the film.
Search through over 500 Criterion Collection titles in our catalog and have yourself a movie marathon that would make a film school student jealous!
Leave a comment below and let us know some of your favorite cult films.
There are new step-by-step instructions and screenshots illustrating how to access and bookmark the Free Library's mobile website on your mobile device of choice. By adding our mobile app icon to your mobile device's home screen, you can access all the great books, music, movies, information, resources, and services available to you from the Free Library with a tap of your finger!
You can sign in and manage your library account, search our vast catalog and databases, download ebooks and podcasts, browse through thousands of images in our extensive digital collections, view the calendar of events at your neighborhood library, and even access and read this very blog.
Leave a comment below and let us know how you use our mobile website and any features you might like to see in a future update!
Beginning on Saturday, May 18th at 5:00 p.m., Free Library IT staff will be performing a software upgrade and system maintenance on our online catalog.
The upgrade is essential to keep our catalog up-to-date and ready to implement future features and services for our customers.
Between 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th when the Free Library system closes for the day and Sunday, May 19th at 1:00 p.m. when we re-open, the following online services will be unavailable to customers:
A true legend of the silver screen passed away earlier this week, and while you may not know his name or what he looks like, chances are if you've ever watched a science fiction, fantasy, or action-adventure film and been amazed at the special fx or blurted out "HOW did they do that?!", you can trace it all back to Ray Harryhausen.
Much like the fans his amazing and groundbreaking work would later thrill and inspire, Harryhausen himself was a mesmerized moviegoer after a screening of King Kong in 1933; one of the first films to use the "stop-motion animation" technique, where a physical object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the film is screened together as a whole.
Harryhausen would go on to be a pioneer in the visual effects world of films, a one man special fx department whose precision and dedication to his craft was legendary as noted by this entry in his bio from IMDb: "The most famous example of the kind of patience required being the exciting skeleton sword fight sequence in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) in which Harryhausen often shot no more than 13 frames of film (one-half second of elapsed time) per day." A far cry from the speed and ease of CGI effects and computers nowadays!