Library in the News: November 2013 Edition

Making a splash in the news headlines was the public opening of The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive. The Library of Congress hosted MacFarlane, Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and a host of other scientists and educators during a special event in Nov. 12. Full coverage over the course of a couple days came from a variety of outlets.

“Now billions of people on our “Pale Blue Dot” can take a look at the historical letters, studies, and musings of pioneering space scientist Carl Sagan,” said Dara Kerr of CNET.

Calling MacFarlane a “science geek,” The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column quoted the celebrity expressing concern that “science literacy is fading.”

Sara Ash from MSNBC said, “The program was filled with talk after talk by people who knew Sagan, worked with him, or were mentored by him. Each speaker might have laid out different facts of their interactions with Sagan, but their stories were all the same. He was one of a kind in his ability to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds and inspire in them the desire to know more about where we came from.”

Other outlets that ran stories included the Cornell Chronicle (Sagan was a professor of astronomy at the university), ABC News, Mashable, The Examiner, Roll Call, Mother Jones, Scienceline and space.com.

Also going public in November – on public display that is – was the Library’s Nicolay copy of the Gettysburg Address, which is presumed to be the first draft of the historical document. (The Library also has the presumed second draft.) The exhibit also marked the 150th anniversary of the famous speech.

The Washington Post featured a transcription of the entire speech. The Baltimore Sun featured a picture slideshow, with a variety of images from the Library of Congress, including the Gettysburg Address on display.

Library curator Michelle Krowl spoke with PBS Newshour in commemoration of the address’s anniversary. “What you see is that Lincoln worked on the address in Washington first, and then probably got to Gettysburg and changed his mind about the ending. So you can think about what might have inspired Lincoln to change that ending about a new birth of freedom and a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

CNN talked about the work that goes into preserving such a document. “To protect their two copies of the Gettysburg Address, preservationists there [Library of Congress] fabricated custom cases with gaskets that purge all of the oxygen around the document and replace it with inert argon gas. When you take away the oxygen, you take away the potential of oxidation, which can erode the delicate original material.”

Countless other news outlets – broadcast and print, local and national – covered the anniversary and referenced the Library’s copies of the address.

Other preservation efforts of the Library include maintaining the largest comic-book collection in the United States, with more than 11,000 titles and over 130,000 single issues. David Dissanayake of bleedingcool.com came to the Library to talk with the curators of the collection and check out some of its most treasured items.

“Knowing that there is an institution collecting and preserving comics for future generations puts my mind at ease. … Preserving comics is such an important undertaking, not only for comics as a medium, but for our culture and for history itself.”

Speaking of preserving items of historical value, the Library in November announced a collaboration with WGBH Boston to preserve a collection of American public radio and television content, dating back through the 1950s.

It was covered by was the Associated Press, the Huffington Post, Broadcasting & Cable and The Boston Globe.

Finally, an article poking a little fun at today’s “selfie” (self-portrait), highlighted an interesting find at the Library.

“Although its current rampant incarnation is quite recent, the ‘selfie’ is far from being a strictly modern phenomenon,” wrote The Public Domain Review. “In fact, the picture considered by many to be the first photographic portrait ever taken was a ‘selfie.’ The image in question was taken in 1839 by an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia named Robert Cornelius.”

(The “selfie” in question is part of the Library’s historical photograph collections.)

Picking up the story were websites Neatorama, Open Culture, i09 and Fast Company.

One Comment

  1. Rita
    December 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Love preservation , but only true, complete and forever preservation when it is captured on microfilm .

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