Web Site Provides Cross-Cultural Access to Children's Books. (and Furthermore)

Teacher Librarian, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Web Site Provides Cross-Cultural Access to Children's Books. (and Furthermore)


A new web site will make thousands of children's books from 100 different cultures available for free over the Internet to children around the world.

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) is a five-year research project to develop innovative software and a collection of books that specifically address the needs of children as readers. Interdisciplinary researchers from computer science, library studies, education, art and psychology are working together with children to design this new library. With participants from around the world, the ICDL is building an international collection that reflects both the diversity and quality of children's literature.

Launched in November, the web site (http://www.icdlbooks.org) offers access to materials donated from 27 cultures in 15 languages. Technical requirements for access to the books ate high, requiring a high-speed Internet connection and at least 256 MB of RAM and 500 MB of hard drive disk space. The project designers plan to offer a version with less demanding technical requirements.

Major funding for this project is from The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Kahle/Austin Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Additional support is being provided from the Library of Congress, Markle Foundation, Adobe Systems Inc. and Octavo.

Upon completion in 2007, the International Children's Digital Library will hold about 10,000 books targeted at children ages 3 to 13. Many of the titles in the current online collection are classics like Alice in wonderland and Robinson Crusoe that are no longer under copyright restriction. Others are newer titles contributed by publishers.

The site will also serve as a source for original research. "We are very excited about the original research being conducted on the way children use computers to interact with books," remarked Dr. …

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