Digital Public Library of America
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this ambitious online resource contains an incredible wealth of information that kids can access safely. The Digital Public Library of America's mission: to make cultural and scientific works more accessible to the public. With a database searchable by map, timeline, format, and topic, they're hosting well over two million separate records, including text, images, and video. And while the library's vast archives are sometimes tricky to navigate, there's a lot of history to dig into here. Older kids will find the site pretty intuitive, but younger researchers may need a helping hand.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- cultural understanding
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- collecting data
- academic development
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
The site design is pretty dry and not necessarily geared toward kids; it's all about research. However, the rotating Exhibitions on the front page are more fun to look at, and kids can find some unique documents.
Kids can use DPLA searches as a jumping-off point to find even more information about their desired subject. Kids can easily transfer their newfound search skills to future research projects.
DPLA's help pages don't offer a lot of technical details, but they do give guidelines on how best to use the site's resources. The most helpful advice is on how to make searching a little less overwhelming.
What's it about?
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an online resource pulling together an incredible wealth of information that kids can access safely. The searchable database of more than two million records includes text, images, and video. Kids can explore a timeline by clicking on a decade of history to see what documents appear. They can also browse current site exhibitions such as \"Activism in the U.S.\" or \"Leaving Europe: A new life in America.\" A searchable map lets kids access resources specific to a particular U.S. state or region.
Is it any good?
Sometimes you really have to know what you're looking for; a search for "illuminated manuscript" brought up over 1500 results, but "illuminated manuscript Gothic" narrowed it down to three. This isn't the place to find a cursory summary of a subject, but you can find some wonderfully specific and fascinating pieces of archival info. The design is a bit austere and serious for younger users, but libraries have never been known for their flashiness. The forums are pretty sparse, but the site just launched in April of 2013, so expect the community to develop and grow over time.
Overall, the Digital Public Library of America is a bit like walking into the Library of Congress: amazing, but a little intimidating. As physical libraries seem to be woefully underfunded, the breadth and quality of DPLA is a wonderful surprise.
Families can talk about...
Families can search together by year; if your kid was born in 2002, click that date on the timeline and see the historical and cultural events that pop up.
What makes a digital library different from a physical library? What are the benefits of each?