Volume 4 Issue 1
Spring 2008
ISSN 1937-7266

Question-answering and digital collections: tools for online learning
within the digital library

Lorri Mon

Florida State University
College of Information
142 Collegiate Loop, 268 LSB
Tallahassee, Florida 32306

Digital libraries have brought forth sweeping changes to the information world, necessitating new types of training in order to build a skilled work force. Universities need opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience within a real, functioning digital library in order to help them to learn to evaluate and implement emerging innovations and to direct the evolution of digital library systems, services, and online collections.

The Internet Public Library (IPL: www.ipl.org) is a digital library which serves the public with online collections and question-answering services, and also supports libraries, college and university educators, and researchers as a test-bed for innovation in library systems and services, and as a learning laboratory for training the digital libraries work force of the future. The IPL originated at the University of Michigan and is currently based at Drexel University, with management participation by universities including Florida State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rutgers University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and University of Washington. Students across the universities can use IPLís Hypatia software for hands-on work with applying metadata and collection building within the digital library, while the QRC software allows students to participate in online question-answering and management of a digital reference information service for IPLís digital library users.

As part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded project to enhance and expand the capacity of the Internet Public Library as an online learning laboratory, we are also building a virtual learning community (ipl.ci.fsu.edu) to support teaching, learning and research within the digital library. The IPL learning community site provides an opportunity to support student learning and to facilitate cross-university and cross-class discussions and collaborations with educators, learners, and researchers nationwide and worldwide, as well as providing an archive and showcase for tools, resources, and projects built and explored by the virtual learning community.

Figure 1: Hypatia Demo
(For a larger version, click here)

Figure 2: QRC Demo
(For a larger version, click here)

For a larger view of the poster click here