American Library Association partners to create first International Children's Digital Library

Contact: Larra Clark


For Immediate Release

November 19, 2002

American Library Association partners to create first International Children's Digital Library

The American Library Association (ALA) has partnered with government, non-profit industry and academic organizations worldwide to create the first-ever International Children's Digital Library (ICDL), The ICDL will be formally announced at a meeting to be held in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress on Wednesday. Speakers at the event will include leaders from the ICDL's supporting organizations.

A partnership of government, non-profit, industry and academic organizations are participating in the five-year, $3.3 million project to develop new technology to serve young readers. Built by The Internet Archive and The University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab, the ICDL will serve children and libraries worldwide by providing a large-scale digital archive of literature for readers ages 3 to 13 years.

The library will launch with 200 digitized texts in 15 languages from 27 cultures and will build to include 10,000 children's books drawn from 100 cultures over the next five years.

"Everyone benefits from this wonderful initiative," said ALA President Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman. "Multilingual library collections will immediately be expanded to better serve our diverse users; researchers and librarians will have a new tool for comparative literature; and we all stand to learn more about each other at a time when this is more important than ever."

ICDL partners include the ALA, Library of Congress, National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Service, Kahle/Austin Foundation, Adobe Systems Inc., the Markle Foundation and Octavo. Adobe Systems, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Random House, Scholastics Inc. and the Children's Book Council are providing additional in-kind contributions and support.

The materials included in the online collection reflect similarities and differences in cultures, societies, interests, lifestyles, aspirations and priorities of people around the world. The collection will be accessible to children via libraries, community centers and schools worldwide.

"As with the ALA's Batchelder Award, I hope this project also will expand Americans' awareness and interest in international children's literature," Freedman said. The Batchelder Award, announced annually at the ALA's Midwinter Meeting in January, recognizes the most outstanding children's book(s) originally published in a foreign language and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States,

While the ICDL's collection is intended to provide access to the best children's books worldwide, a primary long-term benefit of the project may be in discovering how children can best interact with digital books. "The ICDL will enable us to make computers more usable by young readers and non-native English speakers," said Dr. Allison Druin, project leader of the ICDL at The University of Maryland.

"This is the beginning of a long-term project to provide children around the world with access to literature from different cultures in a way that is intuitive and accessible," said ICDL Director Jane White.

The ICDL Librarians National Advisory Board includes ALA member leaders: Pam Berger, Sharon Coatney, Jacqueline Crook, Barbara Elleman, Jane E. Gilchrist, Steven Herb, Susan Roman, Loriene Roy, Maria Salvadore and Patty Wong. The board will focus on the relationship between local libraries, children, the community, and digital children's books.