Featured Collection

January 2000

The Internet Public Library

The Internet Public Library (IPL) is the first public library of the Internet. The IPL has as its purpose to challenge and redefine the roles and significance of libraries in a distributed and digital world. It is a project of the University of Michigan School of Information and is sponsored by Bell & Howell Information and Learning. It has a dual mission as an educational initiative and a public service, training library students and librarians in the art of using the Internet in librarianship via the activities of the IPL's "virtual" library.

The Internet Public Library was begun as a graduate seminar in the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan in the Winter 1995 semester. Since then, the IPL has continued to grow and to develop projects, and it has received dozens of awards, as well as attracted continuing funding necessary to ensure the library's long term viability. Its current staff include: David S. Carter, Director; Joseph Janes, Founding Director; Michael McClennen, Information Systems; Nathaniel Borenstein, Principal Research Scientist; Patricia Memmott, Reference Coordinator; and Carly Wiggins, Youth Services Coordinator.

The IPL provides a mixture of traditional and innovative library services including: a reference service; exhibits; searchable collections of serials, newspapers, and online texts; and a primer on web searching composed of an annotated list of links to web search engines.

Hopi Jar

Figure 1: Photograph of Hopi pottery from the exhibit, Pueblo Pottery, at the Internet Public Library. Copyright Anthony F. Ringold. Used with permission.

Orchestra

Figure 2: Orchestra image from the exhibit, Music History 102: A Guide to Western Composers and Their Music, at the Internet Public Library. Courtesy of Robert Sherrane and the Internet Public Library. Used with permission.

Lighthouse

Figure 3: Pointe Aux Barques Light from the exhibit, Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey, at the Internet Public Library. Copyright Donald W. Carter. Used with permission.

Exhibits are organized under the heading IPL Exhibit Hall and include three categories of exhibition, Current Exhibition, Featured Exhibition, and Permanent Exhibition. Topics for exhibits are wide ranging as can be seen above from images selected from three of the exhibits.

The IPL also features both a Youth Division and a Teen Division. The Youth Division is aimed at children ages 4-11, their parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in the literature and information directed to and about children. The resources there are organized into the following sections: Reference; Our World; Computers/Internet; Health & Nutrition; Reading Zone; USA; Math Whiz; Sports & Recreation; Fun Stuff; Art & Music; Science Net; and Teachers' Corner. The Teen Division exists to make the Internet a more useful place for teenagers by collecting and creating information resources of interest. Two particularly valuable Teen Division resources are 1) a step by step guide to writing research papers and 2) information to aid teens in making career choices. Additionally, there are many selected links to fun and useful sites for teens.

The Internet Public Library does not seek to replace traditional libraries, but rather seeks to support and complement existing public libraries by providing easy access to high quality library services and Internet resources.

Contributed by:
David S. Carter
Director, Internet Public Library
Lecturer, School of Information
University of Michigan


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DOI: 10.1045/january00-featured.collection