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Drexel Upgrades Internet Library as Learning Lab

Drexel University will collaborate with the University of Michigan and Florida State University to help transform its 10-year-old Internet Public Library (IPL) into a "virtual teaching and learning laboratory for digital reference," the university announced.

The new IPL, which was founded in 1995 by the University of Michigan's College of Information Science and Technology, will help librarians and students in library science programs keep up with new technological developments in digital reference services.

Drexel said library patrons are now increasingly seeking information around the clock via personal digital assistants, cell phone text messaging, and online virtual environments. The new IPL would help the library community better respond to those kinds of demands.

To support the makeover, Drexel received more than $600,000 in funding as part of the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services' Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant, which will run through June 2010. The iSchool at Drexel--College of Information Science and Technology--has hosted the IPL since January 2007. The site receives 12 million hits a month, with 1.5 million unique visitors.

Eileen Abels and Denise Agosto, professors in the College of Information Science and Technology, will serve as principal investigator (PI) and Co-PI on the project.

"The IPL is a valuable public resource and teaching tool," Abels said. "The IMLS 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."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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