Monday, March 05, 2007

International Children's Digital Library

The International Children’s Digital Library (ICLD) is a research project designed to create a digital library of children’s books from throughout the world. The books are presented in the original language in which they were published. In addition to this primary goal, other goals include working with children in helping with the design of the searching interface, working with rights management and fair use in a digital age, assessing the impact the access of digital materials has on collection development in school and public libraries, and identifying material that would help children understand other cultures other than their own.

The intended audience for the ICDL is children age 3-13 and those who work with, or have, children in this age group. Another audience is international scholars in the area of children’s literature.

A technology that is new to me is how these books can be read. In addition to the Standard Reader (where the user advances the pages by clicking onto the page being viewed), there is a Comic Reader (where the user gets an overview of all the pages with a zooming interface), and the Spiral Reader (said to be good for flipping through the book). I did not quite master the Spiral Reader (It actually made me a little dizzy!), but I did like the Comic Reader option as all of the pages stayed on the screen, making it easy to keep my place in the book. Any browser can be used with the Standard Reader and it can be used at any internet speed. The Comic and Spiral Readers require high speed internet access and Java Webstart Plugins.

There is a lot of really great material in this website. I do think they may be trying to accomplish too much, however, in this space. The design features for the simple search interface, appear child-friendly (including searching by feelings – happy, sad, scared, funny- if you click on “More Choices”) However, there are aspects of the search interface that may be frustrating or confusing. For example, if you enter the “Popular Searches” and search by “Books by Country” (which is more by continent), the limits are rigid for children. You can sort by language, author, illustrator, publication date and location (from, about, set in); limits I think adults or researchers may be more interested in than children. The home page may be a little cluttered for young people, but again, it has a lot of great information.

Some of the literature may have words and topics that young children should receive some orientation to. The site mentions this toward the bottom of the Collection Development Policy page,, but it would be helpful to have this disclaimer placed in a more prominent position so that the children or adults that work with them would be alerted to this possibility.


Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

It could be that the hope or expect that adults would help children with some aspects of the site.

Cindy D said...

I think having an adult introduce the site and being on hand to discuss some of the issues presented would make this site a more effective resource than just having a child alone do it. For example a contempory book from Kenya, "The Alien" at one point reads "I can't help but wonder if one of the rich nations is scaring us with some hidden agenda. What do they want now?" A child of 3-13 might need a little background or may have questions about that.

LorraineP said...

Another great feature of this site is that the page images are organized according to the text-flow of the language in which they are written. As I was paging through a book in Farsi, it took me a moment to catch on to the fact that the book is meant to be read from right to left. :)