Kids Enjoy a Digital Page-Turner As ICDL Foundation’s “Kids Team” Previews OLPC

New OLPC Laptop is the Focus of Attention as ICDL’s Kids Team,
Who Helped Test the Digital Library’s Online Book Interface, See the End Result.

For immediate release


COLLEGE PARK, MDDecember 30, 2006Members of Kids Team, the child-centered research arm of the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation, this week got their first hands-on experience reading the library’s digital children’s books on the new beta model of the revolutionary new laptop developed by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization.  The ICDL Foundation (www.childrenslibrary.org), which has the world’s largest collection of children’s literature available freely on the Internet, is partnering with OLPC (www.laptop.org) to provide digital versions of its children’s books and reader software for the millions of laptops OLPC will ship worldwide. 

Ruby Kulles, 7, was one of the College Park Kids Team members who tested the bright green laptop computer developed by the One Laptop Per Child organization.  Kids Team was involved in the design and testing of the library’s interface for children’s books, including customization required to accommodate the OLPC’s unique design features, including its revolutionary screen and networking innovations.  The new OLPC laptop is designed to be a flexible, ultra low-cost, power-efficient, responsive, and durable machine with which nations of the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development—transforming the content and quality of their children's learning.

The University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab in College Park hosts Ruby’s Kids Team, one of the five ICDL Kids Team sites around the world.  Here children ages 7 to 11 help design and test the ICDL interfaces, review books, and share their impressions about the role of books, libraries, technology, and culture in their lives.  ICDL researchers also work with children at the four other sites in Chicago, IL; La Ceiba, Honduras; Munich, Germany; and Wellington, New Zealand. 

The non-profit ICDL Foundation’s library has evolved into the world's largest digital collection of children's books.  Currently its digital library comprises over 1,500 books in 37 different languages that have been digitized and archived from its library collection of 5,000 books.  With a user interface accessible in 13 different languages, the Web site has had over 1 million unique visitors since its founding and today is visited by more than 75,000 unique visitors monthly from 166 countries. 

“The ICDL Foundation's goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary children’s books from throughout the world, and make them freely available on the Internet,” said Timothy Browne, ICDL Executive Director.  “That’s why we’re partnering with organizations like OLPC who share our mission of leveraging advances in computer and Internet technology to deliver exemplary literature and educational experiences to the world’s children.  Ultimately, our goal is to have every culture and language represented, so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from around the world.”

The International Children's Digital Library Foundation is dedicated to promoting cultural understanding and tolerance by presenting the best of children's literature to children throughout the world.  By making its extensive collection of books available online in a digital library, the Foundation aspires to reach children, parents and educators who have limited access to libraries.  By sharing life's wonders through stories, the Foundation encourages young minds to discover the world and appreciate the diversity of its people and their ways of life. 

The core asset of the Foundation is its digital library of international children's literature.  It is the objective of the Foundation's founders that its digital library should:

  • Give children around the world access to literature they could never read otherwise;
  • Become an important tool for fighting world illiteracy;
  • Help to preserve books that could otherwise become extinct through deterioration or inadequate storage; and,
  • Foster increased tolerance among cultures and communities. 

The ICDL collection has two primary audiences.  The first audience is children ages 3 to 13, as well as the librarians, teachers, parents, and caregivers who work with them.  The second is international scholars and researchers who focus on children's literature.  All works presented online by ICDL are available in their entirety and in the original languages in which they were published.

The Foundation aspires to increase its collection to more than 40,000 books over the next two years.  Partnerships with national libraries, publishers, award-winning authors and illustrators have enabled this far-reaching digital library to offer children over 1 million pages of digitized contemporary and historic books.  ICDL has hundreds of volunteers from around the world who literally "staff" the library, by identifying books for the collection, securing rights, packaging and sending books either physically or digitally and getting the word out to users. 

About ICDL
Founded in 2002, the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) has the world’s largest collection of children’s literature available freely on the Internet.  Funded initially by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Microsoft Research, ICDL debuted at an international celebration at the Library of Congress.  The mission of the non-profit ICDL Foundation is to identify exemplary books that help children to understand the world around them and the global society in which they live and make them freely available on the Internet.  The materials in its 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.  For more information, please visit ICDL on the Web at www.childrenslibrary.org

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NOTE TO EDITORS:  Experts from the International Children’s Digital Library Foundation are available for interviews and/or commentary on a wide range of related topics including: the role of digital books in elementary education; using the Internet to fight global illiteracy; the digitization of books; and the role of the Internet in supplementing the world’s libraries. 

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