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Drexel Univ. looks to make Internet Public Library a virtual learning lab

The goal is to help users keep up with digital reference services technology

By Linda Rosencrance
August 30, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Drexel University is working with the University of Michigan and Florida State University to transform the Internet Public Library (IPL) into a virtual teaching and learning laboratory for digital reference.

The project will help librarians as well as students in library and information science programs keep up with the new technological developments in digital reference services, according to a statement from the university. Users want to access information around the clock via handhelds, cell phone text messaging and online virtual environments, the university said.

Drexel said it received more than $600,000 in grants from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services' Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which will run through June 2010.

Launched in 1995, the IPL hosts an e-mail question-and-answer service and provides access to collections, including exhibits and resources on a variety of subjects with Web links. "The grant will be used to develop and disseminate digital reference curricula, establish an online learning community to support the IPL, and design and determine the feasibility of a technological training center for digital librarianship," according to the statement.

Eileen Abels and Denise Agosto, professors in the College of Information Science and Technology, will serve as principal investigator and co-principal investigator on the project, respectively. "The IPL is a valuable public resource and teaching tool," said Abels. "The ... grant means that more library and information science students will receive hands-on digital library experience and more faculty members will be able to collaborate on new projects in the area of digital reference."

Read more about Internet in Computerworld's Internet Topic Center.

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