By MARTHA DEXTER
In October 1994 the National Digital Library (NDL) launched an educational outreach program with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The goal: to raise public awareness of Library of Congress historical primary source materials, and to increase their use in elementary and secondary schools.
The most visible educational program offered through the National Digital Library (NDL) is the Learning Page, an online gateway to the digitized historical collections tailored to the needs of students and educators. The page can be accessed on the World Wide Web (URL: http://memory.loc.gov/learn) and offers organized help for searching the Library's primary resource collection categorized by the Events, Topics, People, Time and Places of American history.
Working with the Education Development Center's Center for Children and Technology (CCT), the NDL put together an Educators Forum in July 1995 to explore the fit between the NDL historical collections and the classroom. CCT prepared collection evaluation criteria to help determine which of the Library's many archival collections are most suitable for K-12 educational curricula.
Teachers consistently refer to the need for resource materials in the teaching of local history. Encouraged by this finding, the NDL began a project to digitize selected local history materials from the Library's Local History and Genealogy Reading Room for Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, focusing on first-person narratives from the 19th century. Such materials complement the images already available from the American Memory historical collections.
In July 1996 the National Digital Library Program is co-sponsoring a one-week teacher institute, "Teaching the Humanities Through Technology," with the Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies at the University of Maryland. The program will establish a mentor teacher program in 11 schools in Maryland. In addition, a teacher training curriculum is under development with the Center for Children and Technology.
The NDL Program has contracted with the Social Science Education Consortium and with CCT to prepare teaching materials for its historical collections that can be electronically disseminated by the Learning Page. The Library is also exploring other avenues for distribution, including development of CD-ROM products, both independently and in partnership with educational publishers.
Martha Dexter is in the educational services area of the National Digital Library Program.