Have you ever thought about what it might be like to try to walk through all of the shelves at the Library of Congress? Maybe not, but we LOC people love to mull over the sheer magnitude of this place.
You might have seen statistics here or there that have referred to somewhere in the vicinity of 530 miles of shelves at the Library. But our collections keep growing (at the rate of some 10,000 items per day) and, with them, the shelves keep getting longer.
The Library of Congress has begun bringing online new high-density storage modules at Ft. Meade, Md., that continue to add to that total. But an even more recent addition?the subject of this post?has also increased that mileage, bringing our current estimate to a whopping 615 miles of shelves.
So getting back to my original question: If you were to try to walk 615 miles, you could start in Washington, D.C., heading west until you stopped in Chicago. Then you might want to grab a drink of water, because you?ll have to walk another roughly 20 miles west of Chicago until you reach Aurora, Ill., home of the fictional Wayne and Garth of ?Wayne?s World? fame.
The Library of Congress?s other major, new addition comes in the guise of the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation. The Packard Campus represents a historic and remarkable gift to the government and the taxpayers, with a private cost by the Packard Humanities Institute to build the facility of more than $150 million. The Congress has generously provided $82.1 million in operations, staffing and other start-up costs. Some 5.7 million items, the vast majority of the Library?s collection of audio-visual materials, will be housed at the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Va., about 75 miles southwest of D.C.
More important than just acquiring and storing the items, the Packard Campus offers an opportunity, unparalleled in the world, to preserve the holdings (most of them digitally) for future generations.
The link to the press release above gives you just a hint of the cutting-edge technologies that will help our experts do just that. (This Washington Post story also does a good job of summing things up.)
So the next time you see a newly restored, resplendent movie on on of those classic film channels, you might just be seeing the loving product of Library of Congress staff, who are preserving America?s unrivaled body of audio-visual creativity.