Frequently asked questions

General FAQ

  1. What is the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL)?
  2. Who created the ICDL?
  3. What are the research goals of the ICDL?
  4. Who is the intended audience for the ICDL?
  5. What kinds of materials are included in the ICDL?
  6. Can I link to an ICDL book on my website?

Language FAQ

  1. How did the ICDL decide which languages to add to the interface?
  2. Who did the translation?
  3. Why can't I find the summaries of books and other information like the title and publishing company in my language?
  4. Why doesn't the ICDL translate the text of the books into other languages? I'm willing to help translate them!
  5. Why are some words and phrases in English even though I'm viewing the library in a different language?
  6. Why do some book dates use different calendars?
  7. Will the ICDL be adding more languages?
  8. Will the ICDL be translating the homepage and the other information available at www.childrenslibrary.org?
  9. What do I do if I find a mistake?

Book Contribution FAQ

  1. What are the benefits of having a book included in the ICDL?
  2. Will the ICDL provide a link to sources where potential customers may purchase a print version of the book?
  3. What kinds of permissions does the ICDL seek from rights holders?
  4. How does the ICDL protect the interests of rights holders?
  5. What is needed to include a book in the ICDL?



General FAQ


1. What is the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL)?

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) is a research project funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Microsoft Research to create a digital library of outstanding children's books from all over the world. The project was introduced at an international celebration at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in November 2002. The collection's focus is on identifying materials that help children to understand the world around them and the global society in which they live. The materials in the collection, all presented in the original languages in which they were published, reflect similarities and differences in cultures, societies, interests, and lifestyles of peoples around the world. At the end of the initial research period, it is anticipated that the ICDL collection will include approximately 10,000 materials in at least 100 languages.

2. Who created the ICDL?

The ICDL was created by an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Maryland in cooperation with the Internet Archive. Members of the team include computer scientists, librarians, educational technologists, classroom teachers, graphic designers, and graduate students from the University of Maryland's (UMD) College of Information Studies (CLIS) and the UMD Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL), a leader in children's interface design.

Other important contributors to the research are the members of the College Park Kidsteam, a group of six children, ages 7-11, who work regularly with the adults in the Lab. The approach used is called cooperative inquiry, a unique partnership between children and adults to develop and evaluate computer interface technologies that support searching, browsing, reading, and sharing books in electronic form.

3. What are the research goals of the ICDL?

The ICDL project has five primary research goals:

  • to create a collection of more than 10,000 books in at least 100 languages that is freely available to children, teachers, librarians, parents, and scholars throughout the world via the Internet;
  • to collaborate with children as design partners in the development of computer interface technologies that support children in searching, browsing, reading, and sharing books in electronic form;
  • to better understand the concepts of rights management and "fair use" in a digital age;
  • to evaluate the impact that access to digital materials may have on collection development and programming practices in school and public libraries; and,
  • to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between children's access to a digital collection of multicultural materials and children's attitudes toward books, libraries, reading, technology, and other countries and cultures.

4. Who is the intended audience for the ICDL?

The ICDL collection has two primary audiences. The first audience is children ages 3-13, as well as librarians, teachers, parents, and caregivers who work with children of these ages. The second audience is international scholars and researchers in the area of children's literature.

5. What kinds of materials are included in the ICDL?

According to our collection development policy, the materials selected for inclusion in the ICDL are those that:

  • Support the understanding of similarities and differences among and within countries, peoples, and cultures;
  • Promote tolerance and acceptance;
  • Are considered relevant to children in today's world;
  • Have a high degree of appeal for children of an age between 3 and 13;
  • Meet professionally accepted quality standards in terms of content, format, and presentation; and,
  • Can be presented effectively in a digital format.

At this time, "born digital" books are not included in the ICDL. Only physical books that have been published and that have received some type of recognition in their country of publication are included in the collection. These materials may be:

  • currently available in print and within copyright;
  • out of print but within the copyright protection of the country in which they were published; or,
  • freely available in the public domain.

All works are presented in their entirety and in the original languages in which they were published. Works originally published as abridgements or adaptations of other works may also be included in the collection.

The majority of the collection consists of contemporary materials that are in copyright. The remainder of the collection is made up of important historical materials that are in the public domain. Historically important literature and contemporary, award-winning titles are added to the collection as they become available.

6. Can I link to an ICDL book on my website?

Yes, you can link to books in ICDL using our permanent links. To find the permanent link for a book, go to the About This Book page, and click Link to This Book. You can also link to our books using their ISBNs. For example, you can link to Axle the Freeway Cat with www.childrenslibrary.org/icdl/BookPreview?isbn=0060226978. The ISBNs (if known) are listed on the About This Book page.

Language FAQ

1. How did the ICDL decide which languages to add to the interface?

We chose these languages based on our usage logs and the languages of our books. When we had a large group of books in a particular language, or many visitors from a certain country, we decided to add those languages to the initial roll-out of the interface. We also included languages that people who work with us could speak and write, since translators were readily available.

2. Who did the translation?

We rely on volunteer translators to work with both our metadata and Web site translation. In order to present an initial interface with many languages, we decided to use volunteers when they were available and pay for a translation service for a few of the languages.

3. Why can't I find the summaries of books and other information like the title and publishing company in my language?

We strive to have metadata (i.e., information about the book, such as title, author, publishing company, and summary) available for each book in the language(s) of the book as well as English. For example, if a book is written in German, we would try to publish metadata in both German and English. Although we would like to, we do not have the resources to translate the metadata of the books into every single language. However, if you are willing to volunteer to translate the metadata of a particular book or group of books into your language, we would be glad to have your help! Please consider joining us as an ICDL Translator by using our sign up form or emailing us (in English) at icdl-volunteer@cs.umd.edu.

4. Why doesn't the ICDL translate the text of the books into other languages? I'm willing to help translate them!

The ICDL contains some published book translations. We also have been given rights to translate some of the books in the collection and display them in our library. Our volunteer translators help us translate these books. Learn more about the ICDL book translation process and how you can help.

5. Why are some words and phrases in English even though I'm viewing the library in a different language?

We are always trying to improve our library, and sometimes that means changing the wording or adding a phrase. Until we can get the new words translated, they will display as English. If you would like to volunteer to help us translate these words, please join our team as an ICDL Translator by using our sign up form or emailing us (in English) at icdl-volunteer@cs.umd.edu.

6. Why do some book dates use different calendars?

Different countries use different calendar systems, which is reflected in information such as the publication dates and award year dates for some books. Unless otherwise specified, the dates associated with a book are in the Gregorian calendar. Book dates that use a different calendar are explicitly marked with the type of calendar used (e.g. Muslim, Japanese).

7. Will the ICDL be adding more languages?

Yes! But we need your help! If you would like your language to be included, please consider joining us as an ICDL Translator by using our sign up form or emailing us (in English) at icdl-volunteer@cs.umd.edu.

8. Will the ICDL be translating the homepage and the other information available at www.childrenslibrary.org?

The homepage has been translated into Spanish and Mongolian. We hope to add more languages in the future.

9. What do I do if I find a mistake?

We appreciate any chance to improve our library. If you find a mistake in a translation, please let us know (in English) by using our contact form.

Book Contribution FAQ

1. What are the benefits of having a book included in the ICDL?

Books included in the ICDL benefit from increased exposure to children, librarians, teachers, parents, and scholars around the world. The ICDL provides exposure to a worldwide market. It may promote and highlight up-coming authors and illustrators; expand markets; facilitate publishing or co-publishing opportunities; encourage translation; create global awareness of titles and series; and identify interest in out of print titles, which may be considered candidates for re-printing. Publishers and other rights holders may request information regarding the number of times that specific titles are accessed through the collection from the ICDL Research Team.

The ICDL also provides a means of preserving quality children’s literature that might otherwise be lost to the world. As the collection expands, it will offer access to historical materials heretofore available only in special collections in libraries and institutes throughout the world.

2. Will the ICDL provide a link to sources where potential customers may purchase a print version of the book?

The ICDL provides links to many of the web sites of publishers, authors, illustrators or other rights holders who contribute books to the collection. We also provide direct links to some book sellers. The ISBNs (if known) can be found on the About This Book page.

3. What kinds of permissions does the ICDL seek from rights holders?

The ICDL seeks only the non-exclusive right to reproduce digital versions of the books and make them freely available for public display through the International Children’s Digital Library web site located at www.childrenslibrary.org.

4. How does the ICDL protect the interests of rights holders?

The ICDL includes a copyright notice and an acknowledgment of the rights holder’s license with the University of Maryland in all displays and publications for each book in the collection.

The ICDL also employs technological measures that are designed to prevent the downloading, printing, and unauthorized further display and/or distribution of the books in the collection. Rights holders may choose the security levels they prefer for each title, which are described in our Copyright License.

5. What is needed to include a book in the ICDL?

The ICDL Research Team requires three items in order to include a book in the collection: