Where’s Biafra?

Remember when a parent or teacher would answer your question with a question? “What’s the capital of El Salvador?” you’d ask innocently. “Do you know where you can find the answer to that question?” –Of course, the LIBRARY.

Well, things are easier now for researchers of any age. Yesterday, the Internet Public Library celebrated its third year of service as the world’s first digital public library, providing online collections and answering reference questions for Internet surfers from around the world. The IPL now has over 7 million users, reference questions from around the world, major collections, and a reputation among librarians and educators for high-quality work.

The IPL volunteer librarians and staff have answered over 5,000 reference questions, with such positive results that IPL librarians are frequently used as the “library of last resort” by other librarians with “stumper” questions. Yet at the heart of IPL is a staff of only four librarians, supplemented by a small but hardworking group of librarian volunteers.

Based at the University of Michigan School of Information, the IPL is staffed by professional librarians, with assistance from students and voluntr librarians from around the world, and has been visited by more than 7 million people from over 100 countries. The library maintains a collection of online ready reference works, responds to reference questions, creates web resources, evaluates and categorizes resources on the Internet and provides a space for exhibitions.

So now the next time a student of your acquaintance asks for help, send them to IPL.org at the website listed below.