A Feather in the Librarian's Cap


President Bush bestows the Presidential Citizens Medal to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington

President Bush bestows the Presidential Citizens Medal to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington

Last week was one of the busiest (if not the busiest) week I’ve seen since coming to the Library. There was the Library’s presentation of the $1 million Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Humanity. There were a lot of great, new interactive features that came online in the Library of Congress Experience (online and in the Jefferson Building.) There was a meeting of the Library’s private-sector advisory group, the James Madison Council. All of this came in the wake of the opening of the Capitol Visitor Center, which has led to several visitors now entering the Library via the passageway beneath First Street S.E. — a sight that warms my heart every time I see it!

And if that all weren’t enough, our boss, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, got some wonderful recognition in the middle of all of it. Dr. Billington was one of 23 people (and one award made posthumously) to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal, which is the second-highest civilian distinction bestowed by the President behind the Medal of Freedom. (Only about 100 people have received the award since it was established in 1969.)

In comments to staff last week, Dr. Billington was especially gracious in pointing out that the people of the Library of Congress are the ones who help him achieve what he has, in order to make such recognition possible in the first place.

Congrats, Dr. B.!

Library Releases Report on Flickr Pilot

In January, the Library embarked on something that took the online community by storm. In conjunction with Flickr, we loaded a few thousand images from the Library of Congress’ vast collections and asked the user community to get involved: Give us your tags, your comments, your huddled masses …

We were essentially conducting an experiment to see how crowdsourcing might enhance the quality of the information we are able to provide about our collections, while also finding innovative ways to get those collections out to people who might have an avid interest in them.

As we’ve said again and again, we’ve been bowled over by the response. Now, the Library has released its report on the Flickr pilot. (The full report is here; a summary is here. Both links are PDFs.)

After the jump is an account of some of our findings, as adapted from a piece intended for the Library of Congress Gazette, our in-house newsletter.

Read more »