Library in the News: December 2015 Edition

While the new year is upon us, the Library’s headlines in December are worth looking back on.

Topping the news was the announcement of the new selections to the National Film Registry. Outlets noted recognizable films such as “Ghostbusters” and “Top Gun” along with some of the list’s more obscure titles.

“If there are any ghosts lurking in the Library of Congress, they’d do well to watch their backs, because they’ll soon be keeping company with a cadre of their fiercest enemies,” wrote Eliza Berman for Time Magazine.

Indiewire highlighted the diversity of the films, including those that featured the work of African Americans, both as main subjects and major creative forces.

Deadline called the validation by the National Film Registry better than the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Charles Bramesco of Screen Crush wrote, “The United States government does a whole lot of unsavory things … But from time to time, the government also does wonderful things that make us very happy, and that is where the National Registry of Film comes in. Devoted specifically to the preservation of ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films,’ the NRF is the Library of Congress’ way of securing the future of countless important films for generations to come.”

Other national outlets running stories included CBS News, The Associated Press, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and PBS Newshour.

In other movie news, “Star Wars” has been everywhere lately, and the Library has gotten in on some of the action. In December, the Library hosted a slate of children’s authors behind Disney’s Star Wars saga books.

“If there is any doubt whether the next generation — the new hope — will embrace the forthcoming Star Wars film, the hundreds of excited shrieks bouncing off the Library of Congress walls yesterday should be taken as the sound of high-decibel reassurance,” wrote Michael Cavna for The Washington Post.

“And to the librarians in attendance, as well as to a journalist, could anything be more encouraging than the ear-piercing cry of hundreds of happy kids shouting: ‘May the books be with you!’?”

Fast Forward covered the event and did brief interviews with the authors.

Mashable writer Lance Ulanoff had the opportunity to watch the original, unrestored 1977 “Star Wars” film.

“The librarian finds my name on a Post-It Note and directs me to a nearby desk with a Dell Computer running Windows 7,” he wrote. “On it are six files that comprise the entirety of the original ‘Star Wars negative transfer.

“If ‘Star Wars had finished its theatrical run and then been played on TV for the next near-half century without any extra care given to its image quality or aesthetics, this is likely how it would appear for everyone. It’s kind of a thrill.”

Also in entertainment, the Library acquired a collection of kinescopes, videotapes, 16 mm and Super 8 home movies of legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs and his wife, singer-actress-comedienne Edie Adams. Broadcasting & Cable, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety ran stories.

The Library also acquired a significant collection of oral histories provided by responders to the devastating Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center. Time, DCist and the Associated Press picked up the announcement.

Speaking of collections, NPR gave an animated take to the Library’s series of panoramic photos of the Thomas Jefferson Building during construction. Enjoy!

NPR also wrote a great piece on the Library’s map collections, and spoke with Library curator John Hessler.

“As beautiful as these maps are, no one will ever again use them to get from point A to point B. So what’s the point of the collection?” said reporter Ari Shapiro. “‘Most maps aren’t to get from point A to point B,’ Hessler says. ‘Most maps are about how we as a civilization, as different cultures, perceive our lives in this box that we live in. All human activity takes place in space, and cartography is the thing that lets us keep track of that space.’”

And, the Library continues to receive accolades for its various projects and initiatives. Slate named the American Archive for Public Broadcasting as a top digital history project for 2015. The Daily Beast named “Facing Change” as a top photography book in 2015. And, Red Tricycle called the Library’s Young Reader’s Center a place every D.C. parent should know about.

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