Library in the News: July 2015 Edition

The Library’s announcement of Willie Nelson as the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Music dominated the headlines in July, with more than 1,000 news stories running nationally and internationally.

“His voice, seemingly worn by time and burdened by experience even in his earliest recordings, attracted new audiences to country,” reported David Morgan for CBS News. “But Nelson also served as a major innovator – expanding the genre of country itself by exploring the language of blues, jazz, folk, rock and Latin, while also sparking a new sound: ‘outlaw country.”

Blog austin360 called Nelson the “patron saint of Austin” and offered up some interested stats on his career that paved the way for many distinctions, including the Gershwin Prize.

Outlets including Rolling Stone, USA Today, Hollywood Reporter, New York Times, PBS Newshour and the Los Angeles Times, among many others, ran news of Nelson’s recognition.

A regular headline in the news has been the work being done out at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation. In July, Wired Magazine highlighted the facility’s work in preserving nitrate film, among other things.

“Arriving at the Library through a combination of private donations and official purchases, these nitrate films represent a small fraction of its 1.4 million movie, television, and video recordings,” wrote Bryan Gardiner. “Still, they’re without a doubt some of the oldest and most important.

Speaking of headlines, a story in touted “Never-Before-Seen Pictures and Anecdotes from the Creation of ‘Little Shop of Horrors!'” – and the images were from the Library. The story by Logan Culwell featured a variety of images from the Library’s Howard Ashman Collection. Ashman was the musical’s lyricist, playwright and Broadway director.

According to the Culwell, this story was one of many to come offering “an unprecedented look behind the scenes at landmark musicals through writers’ handwritten drafts and other rarities archived within the Music Division of the Library of Congress.” also highlighted a musical story from the Library’s collections, featuring a Library blog post written about “The Sound of Music.” Through letters in the Oscar Hammerstein collection, the story (and the Library’s blog) reveal the story of Sister Gregory of Rosary College, who was instrumental in helping to create one of the most well-known and well-loved musicals of a generation.

In June, the Library opened a new exhibition on the Bay Psalm Book, which was featured in the July issue of Fine Books & Collections Magazine.

“The first thing visitors behold upon entering the exhibit space is a case containing two copies of the Bay Psalm Book (1640), the first book printed in colonial America, of which only eleven survive,” wrote Rebecca Rego Barry. “On the left sits the Library of Congress copy–worn and incomplete, but in its original binding. It is a remarkable pairing, and any bibliophile might be pleased to make the trip for it alone.”

Continuing to make news were educators participating in its Teaching With Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institutes. Regional outlets from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, California and Washington, among others, announced local teachers who would be attending.

Hypothesis of a Culture

April Rodriguez, one of 36 Library of Congress Junior Fellow Summer Interns, wrote the following post while working in the Library’s American Folklife Center. Rodriguez recently received a master’s degree in library information studies from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She also has a background in sound engineering and film archiving, and she was […]

History You Could Really Sink Your Teeth Into

E.L. Doctorow, a giant of American letters who uplifted the genre of the historical novel, died yesterday at the age of 84. The author of “Ragtime,” “World’s Fair,” “Billy Bathgate,” “The March,” “Welcome to Hard Times” and “Andrew’s Brain,” among many other works of fiction, will be much missed. Doctorow was the recipient of the […]

The Battle of Waterloo

(The following is a guest post from Taru Spiegel, reference specialist in the Library’s European Division.) Today marks the 200th anniversary of the history-changing Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This engagement ended in the conclusive defeat of Napoleon and his French generals and was a costly victory for the Anglo-Dutch, Belgian and German forces. The […]

Page From the Past: A Show About Nothing

When “The Seinfeld Chronicles” first aired on NBC on July 5, 1989, no one could have predicted that the “show about nothing” would become a cultural phenomenon. Inspired by real-life people and events, the show followed the life of a stand-up comedian and his friends. The pilot episode (pictured left), written by show creators Jerry […]

Trending: Superheroes on Screen

Superheroes continue to captivate audiences nearly a century after their film debut. America loves its superheroes (and villains). These beloved and delightfully despised characters continue to take center stage at the movies and on television. “The Mark of Zorro” (United Artists, 1920), a silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks, was among the 10 motion pictures featuring […]

Collecting Comedy

(The following is an article from the May/June 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. Daniel Blazek, a recorded sound technician at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Preservation, wrote the story. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Laughter, with its links to the development of the human brain, no doubt […]

Alan Lomax’s Legacy

(The following is a story written by Stephen Winick, folklorist and writer-editor in the American Folklife Center, for the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. The issue can be read in its entirety here.) A century after his birth, folklorist Alan Lomax is remembered for his preservation of the nation’s cultural […]

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 […]