IPL Consortium Formed – Entering Exciting New Era

September 3, 2006 at 9:56 am

Like some of my fellow bloggers at Library Garden, I’ve been traveling most of the summer both on holiday as well as on a few business trips. One of my trips was to represent Rutgers University SCILS at meeting of the newly formed Internet Public Library (IPL) Consortium at the University of Michigan on August 1-2 in Ann Arbor. I was honored to be a part of this important meeting that drew many reference experts from around the US together to operate as a think tank. This group is working chart the course of the new IPL Consortium, determine its governance structure, and seek sustainable funding sources. The University of Michigan has enlisted the help of 15 additional universities to form the IPL Consortium and Rutgers is one of the IPL Partners.

As you may know, the IPL has been housed at the University of Michigan’s School of Information for the 11 years of its existence. Its mission is to provide library services to all users of the Web, but also to serve as a training ground for library school students. It has provided access to high quality web-based resources as well as to e-mail reference help. The IPL is well known and respected with approximately 12 million hits per month (estimated 1.5 million unique visitors). If you search for “library” or “public library” on Google, the IPL is at the top of the list. It has roughly 100 professional library volunteers and about 250 students who work to build collections and answer e-mail reference questions.

As a result of the August meeting, the group made recommendations a shared governance structure for the IPL that will be discussed and hopefully implemented at an upcoming meeting of the IPL Consortium at the upcoming i-Conference 2006 on October 15-17 also at the University of Michigan. In addition, several avenues for funding have been identified that will be explored in the coming months.

Stop by the IPL website to track these developments!


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