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What is the Digital Library Project?

The Digital Library Project aims to bridge the so-called "digital divide" in the Chicago Public School System by creating a high-quality digital library of materials to supplement classroom instruction as well as support individual student inquiry. The high level goals of this Digital Library Project are to:

  1. Make available a digital library of teacher-selected K-12 materials to all participating schools,
  2. Encourage resource-based learning, and
  3. Facilitate the integration of technology into the classroom by providing an immediately useful application.

Toward the realization of these goals, the project has created this Web site which provides access to curriculum-relevant materials by way of an attractive and easy-to-use interface, designed for both younger and older students, as well as adults. In addition, an evolving search system, based on the most up-to-date metadata structure available, makes it easy to find the material you want. In the future, searches will be made more intelligent to not only retrieve documents, but also to help predict their usefulness on the basis of student age and class assignments.

eCUIP staff are currently working with nine CUIP schools to select and evaluate materials as well as identify training needs associated with this digital library. eCUIP is accessible to anyone with Internet access, however, some materials may be restricted by contract to schools within the Chicago Public School System.

In addition to building and maintaining the eCUIP Web site itself, the Digital Library project includes implementation support, a training program for teachers and librarians to use the Digital Library and to add materials to it, the extension of the Digital Library to additional non-school locations, and formal feedback and evaluation.

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Digital Libraries "Organizations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities."

Digital Divide "The contrast between affluent and low-income communities is apparent around the country. Poor communities are entering the Information Age far behind their wealthier neighbors. The technology gap is not simply a reflection of the choices made by an individual household; it reflects deeper problems — like access to infrastructure. While public attention is often focused on whether individuals can get a service, an equally important problem is lack of adequate telecommunications facilities, a reality that makes an area less attractive for businesses investment. This can feed a spiral where the lack of investment at the community level leads to fewer economic opportunities for people who live there. As a result, the poverty in the neighborhood makes it a less inviting target for investment, further aggravating the problem."

— Digital Beat

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