Despite predictions that libraries would become obsolete in this era of technology, libraries are as vital as ever. Many, in fact, are on the forefront of defining the digital library and preserving our cyber-rights. In 1953, President Eisenhower wrote "The libraries of America are and must ever remain the home of free, inquiring minds. To them, our citizens must be able to turn with clear confidence that there they can freely seek the whole truth."
Although at first glance Internet Public Library might look like just-another-Internet-directory- for-kids, IPL goes beyond the mold with their fabulous original features. Follow your mouse to the bottom of the page for features that include a tour of an auto factory (So you want to make a car . . . ), a journey around the world (Culture Quest) and a Science Fair Project Resource Guide. Teens have a separate IPL division.
You know the nice librarian who sits at the reference desk and answers your questions? Now the Internet has one too! "Kids Connect is a question-answering, help and referral service to K-12 students on the Internet" created by the American Association of School Libraries. Send your question via email, and you can expect an answer within two school days. If you are a school media specialist (is the word librarian now politically incorrect?), be sure to consider signing on as a Kids Connect volunteer.
The Library of Congress is a national treasure both on and off the Web. My two favorite sections are American Memory ("America's story in words, sounds and pictures") which has a terrific Today in History page, and the online exhibitions. Teachers will appreciate the Learning Page with lesson plans and activities such as Historical Detective ("Was Billy the Kid really killed by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico?") To give you an idea of the diversity of the exhibits, two current features are Sigmund Freud and Pat Oliphant, the Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist.
What's your favorite spot in the library? Is it the reference desk? The magazine rack? The reading room? You'll find them all at Library Spot, which won me over with its clean well- organized, well-lit design. My favorite clicks are found at the Reference Desk, which is arranged in alphabetic order from Acronyms to Statistics.
Even if you're nowhere near Portland, Oregon, you can still enjoy the Multnomah County Library. Some of the virtual goodies found here include a Library Joke of the Month ("Q. Where does a librarian sleep? A. Between the covers.") and a large listing of online games. Do you have a favorite author? Check out the extensive listing of children's author sites found under All About Books.