Thursday, February 12, 2009

ICDL - International Children's Digital Library

ICDL - International Children's Digital Library

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL( is a great example that shows a different use of digitization other than archives. This is a non-profit organization that wishes to inspire children to become active members of the global community, learn tolerance and respect for other languages and other cultures. They do this by collecting books that represent the different countries in the world and making it available online. The International Children's Digital Library is a five year project funded by the National Science Foundation and Institute for Museum and Library Services and conducted at the University of Maryland.

This website is extremely transparent in that they publish all of the collection development policies, their criteria in considering whether a book should be added to the collection. The main criteria for their collection is that the material reflects the ICDL's mission of promoting tolerance and acceptances of differences, as well as portraying the cultures of the world. They also wish for relevance to current events and also will digitize historical children's books. Museums and archives can also submit antique children's books to the collection to add to the historical element. ICDL considers their digital collection a "public library for the world."

The metadata they provide within the digital collection is simple, geared towards children between 3 to 13. In the search engine, they've divided up the metadata into categories such as colors of covers, age groups, types of characters, types of stories. There is also an interactive "globe" that acts as a search engine if a user wishes to search by country. For more mature users, there is a bunch of search catergories they can browse and retrieve books from. Also, when you read a book, the basic bibliographic image is present: title, author, date of publication, a short summary, language, who contributed the book to ICDL; however there's also a feature that allows kids to write their own reviews and read other reviews about a book. The book is also scanned page by page and sometimes you can see two pages at a time as if you were holding the real physical book itself.

The collection itself is really impressive. They have books in all kinds of languages, from all kinds of countries, and also from different eras. My favorite one that I looked at was one called Apple Pie; it was an alphabet book from the 19th century.

The audience is definitely geared towards children between the ages 7 to 13 and their parents. I can see teachers and education majors also enjoying this site. I enjoyed it immensely; it was fun to look at books from Iran and New Zealand.

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