A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that ipl2 for Kids is a section of the huge Internet Public Library experimental resource, which is created and maintained by professors and students at library and information science programs. The site is organized by subject and does link to other sites. It may be a bit too cluttered for younger students to find what they're looking for on their own, but for older students, parents, and teachers, it's a well-stocked resource. Kids can submit a question (barring medical, legal, tax, and personal opinion) to a volunteer librarian and receive a well-researched answer back within about a week.
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What's it about?
IPL KIDSPACE brings the talent of librarians right into the home or school of any student, parent, or teacher looking for some research assistance. The site is divided into two main categories: the general subject categories that include scores of links to approved related sites and features created by information scientists that focus on specific projects such as science fairs, a virtual marine biology experiment, or an authors' page. The Ask an IPL Librarian feature allows users to submit a question and receive a well-researched answer back from a volunteer librarian within about a week; however, it does warn users that it may not always be as timely or thorough, depending on how many questions are in their queue.
Is it any good?
Generally, IPL2 is a top-notch site. But with thousands of other sites linked to here, some may be objectionable to some parents, while others may be age-appropriate only for older kids. Design-savvy kids may find this site less attractive than some other popular educational sites. It's still worth a look-see, though, for the uber amounts of research that have clearly gone into compiling all of this information onto one site -- and for the great individualized help via "Ask an ipl2 Librarian."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using reference tools responsibly. Discuss the ethical way to use the information from a site like this without plagiarizing. The site has a great primer on how to cite information found from this source in school reports.
Explore the differences between going to a brick-and-mortar library and visiting this online library. How is it different to ask a librarian a question online vs. in person? Is one better than the other?
Wikipedia is another source kids use for Internet research. Our Wikipedia Tips can help you guide your kids.
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