Digital Public Library of America

Common Sense Media says

Vast online library is a wealth of searchable info.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

DPLA makes its records accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, upholding the underlying philosophy of public libraries everywhere.

Violence

Users would find the same level of historical violence found in schoolbooks; images are presented without comment, not glorified in any way.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Users can create an account with an email in order to save and share lists of records. The site is secure and no personal information is collected or shared.

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • events
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • collecting data
  • investigation

Self-Direction

  • academic development

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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.

Support

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • events
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • collecting data
  • investigation

Self-Direction

  • academic development

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn about history, science, and culture as they sharpen their research skills in this huge database. Introduced to different styles of finding information, they'll discover what works best. (If kinds use the Map search function, they might end up learning a little geography as well--bonus!) They can collect data, add it to lists, and save to their personal pages for future reference. The front page Exhibitions highlight subjects like "Activism in the U.S." Though probably more interesting for older kids, DPLA is a researcher's dream and a labor of love that all students can benefit from.

This Learning Rating review was written by Polly Conway

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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?

QUALITY
 

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?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:History
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Digital Public Library of America was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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