PennApps at the Penn Libraries: Update and winners

Over the weekend of September 6-8, Van Pelt Library hosted about 200 students participating in PennApps, the largest student-organized hackathon in the world. The students ate, slept, and hacked on the sixth floor, and a wonderful time was had by all! Anu Vedantham has provided a write-up of her experience on Sunday morning over on the PennWIC blog, and our own Molly Des Jardin (Japanese Studies Librarian) added her thoughts here at AppsOnTap. It was intense and fun!


Hackers at work in the Kislak Center

The Library offered at prize of $500 for the best app using library data. There were three great apps that used library data.

Runner-up Retrotext turns any word or phrase into early print, using the ABCDarium Set from the Penn Provenance Project on Flickr.

The Flickr set is here:,

The app is here:

Type in your word or phrase, then push the button to make the magic happen. If you don’t like the first one you get, push the button again!


Happily hacking the night away!

The other runner-up is Librarian, which uses data from the library website to find exact locations (to the shelf) of books in the library’s collection.

See the submission video here:

The winning app is the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts Visualization, which provides a timeline showing when manuscripts in the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts moved from one owner to another. It is a proof-of-concept, showing all manuscript movement up until the mid-seventeenth century. Shorter periods of time are red arcs, longer in orange up through the spectrum, with the longest arcs in purple. Mouse-over an arc to see the title of the manuscript.

The app can be viewed here:


Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts: Ownership Visualization

Congratulations to all the students who participated in PennApps, and thanks especially to those souls who braved library data and built apps with it! And thanks to housekeeping for keeping things clean, to security for keeping everyone safe, to the building supervisors who kept everything together, and to Anu Vedantham, Mitch Fraas, Molly Des Jardin, Ancil George, and Will Noel for volunteering their time over the weekend to make PennApps happen in the Library!

Here are some articles and lots of photos from PennApps, if you are interested in learning more:

Recently from Apps On Tap…


  1. Ownership visualization is the SDBM app of my dreams!! FANTASTIC!

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