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 http://www.childrenslibrary.org/icdl/SimpleSearchCategory, 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, http://www.childrenslibrary.org/about/collection.shtml, 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.