This semester, I’m enrolled in a digital libraries course, and as a part of my work for it, I have to review a digital library. Initially, I had planned to look at the National Archives and Records Administration, but after getting started, I realized that its websites was far too broad, as are its digital collections. I decided instead to look into alternatives (that hadn’t already been claimed by my classmates) and boy, am I glad that I did. A simple search turned up the National Science Digital Library, which I have decided is quite possibly one of the coolest resources to come along since Wikipedia.
So, what is the NSDL? It’s a grant-funded institution geared toward providing high quality online resources for students from “K-16” with a specific focus on the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It began as a part of the University Cooperation for Atmospheric Research’s Community program, and it is funded largely through federal grants.
As awesome as all of that is, however, I find something else so much cooler: the NSDL doesn’t host any content. Instead, it provides metadata about resources held on other sites that choose to contribute their content to the NSDL. I know, the idea of a wannabe-librarian loving an organization because it doesn’t hold content is weird, but what I love is the simplicity (yet enormity) of the task at hand — to provide long term access to quality information. Because really, that’s what librarians are trying to do anyway.