Library in the News: December 2014 Edition

Every year, the Library of Congress announces the addition of 25 films to the National Film Registry, and we are always excited about the enthusiasm for the selected films and the opportunity to spread the word about our preservation efforts.

The Washington Post reached out to some of the filmmakers for their thoughts on their work being added to the registry.

Mark Jonathan (“Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” [2001]): “The Academy Awards, as everyone knows, are a snapshot of one year. This film’s selection by the National Film Registry means that the movie has had a long life and will continue to going forward.”

In its “Reading the Times With” column, the New York Times featured actress Laura Dern, who said she was “ecstatic” about this year’s list of films.

National outlets running stories included Variety, Los Angeles Times, CBS News, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, CNN, Reuters and PBS Newshour, which featured clips of the films.

Regional outlets in Ohio, Oregon, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Canada, Italy and Germany, among others also highlighted the registry.

Speaking of film preservation, the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation continues to make headlines.

Martha Teichner of CBS Sunday Morning visited the campus.

“The vaults look like they’re straight out of some sinister, surreal movie,” she said. “Monsters lurk behind these locked doors — like the original camera negative of ‘Frankenstein,’ from 1931, starring Boris Karloff — and treasures.”

During her visit, she was shown a copy of a “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite” broadcast from Nov. 8, 1977, which featured her very first story for the network.

“It was, like, nine days after my first day of work,” she said.

In addition to the moving image collections, a large photographic archive – more than 13.7 million – also resides at the Library.

James Estrin of the New York Times Lens Blog spoke with the Library’s Beverly Brannan about photographer Dorothea Lange, whose photographs are part of the Library’s collections.

“She was a humanist,” Brannan said. “She could look at a person’s face and know a lot about that person, and her photos capture something very accurate and meaningful of that person.”

Brannan said that after 40 years at the Library, she is still discovering new things about Lange.

ABC News featured a series of photographs of bulldogs dressed in human attire, taken by an unknown photographer.

The Library welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors each year. Brandon Wetherbee and Jonny Grave of BrightestYoungThings took a whirlwind tour of the institution and wrote a photo essay about their experience.

“We’re inside a building re-built from the shreds of what survived the Burning of Washington two centuries ago,” Grave wrote. “Along with the card catalog cabinets, this building holds the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg bible, George Gershwin’s piano, the only portrait Beethoven ever sat for, and a copy of almost every book ever printed. And I’m shooting as fast as I possibly can.

“What I find most striking about the Library of Congress is not how much they have behind their doors, but how it is all available to the public,” he added. “The Library of Congress is not just an archive, or a compendium of knowledge. All of the knowledge within the very brick and mortar of the building (or archived away in Culpepper, one of the Library’s satellite locations) is meant to be disseminated to the public, for free.”

Also paying us a visit was MLB.com who wrote about the Library’s baseball collections.

“The nation’s greatest storehouse of knowledge has developed a healthy baseball habit,” wrote Spencer Fordin. “The Library of Congress has traced the history and maturation of America for more than 200 years, and baseball has weaved its way into the national consciousness in surprising ways.”

Leading the way for the Library’s initiatives and innovations is Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

“The 85-year-old scholar has been one of the country’s most aggressive advocates, moving the resources of the library online and expanding its educational outreach through 21st century technology,” wrote Maria Recio for McClatchy News Service. “Billington is, quite simply, a keeper of American culture, not just the keeper of books. He is charged with preserving the past while also expanding the library’s reach by keeping it tune with the moment – in music, in film, in various forms of human literary and artistic expression.”

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In 2014, December 16 marked the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV. Also referred to as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah recalls the event. According to the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, at the re-dedication […]

The Big Lebowski Abides

My condition is in fantastic condition today – I’m pleased that “The Big Lebowski” made this year’s list of 25 films selected for placement on the Library of Congress National Film Registry. These movies are judged to have special cultural, historic or aesthetic value and to be worthy of preservation for posterity. Other noteworthy films […]

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LC in the News: October 2014 Edition

Just as the Washington Nationals were closing out a winning baseball season, the Library of Congress discovered rare footage of the Washington Senators’ 1924 World Series victory over the New York Giants. “Finding footage that has probably not been seen since its last theatrical run 90 years ago is usually a moment for celebration for […]

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Today marks the anniversary of the opening of the original Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, on Oct. 22, 1883.  This is the hall, no longer in existence, where Enrico Caruso performed “Vesti La Giubba” in “Pagliacci”; where Geraldine Farrar sang “Un Bel Di,” in “Madame Butterfly.”  Thanks to radio broadcasts, it was the […]

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Civil Rights Act Exhibition Features Historical Documentary Footage

Considered the most significant piece of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It banned discrimination in public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants, theaters and retail stores. It outlawed segregation in public education. It banned discrimination in employment, and it […]