Library in the News: August 2014 Edition

In August, the Library of Congress was busy with exhibitions and expositions, opening “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years” on Aug. 14 and hosting the 14th annual National Book Festival on Aug. 30.

“At the company’s heart was ballet theater, a physical way of creating a new world onstage,” wrote Sarah Kaufman for The Washington Post. “If the scope of that effort has narrowed in recent years, with a reliance on old favorites and warhorses, at least the evidence of its flourishing is preserved under glass.”

The Washington Post Express also ran a photo essay on two images on display in the exhibition.

The opening of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) exhibition also celebrated the Library’s acquisition of the dance company’s archives.

“[The Library of Congress] seemed like a natural fit, as we are a national company,” said Rachel Moore, ABT’s chief executive, who spoke with Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times.

The National Book Festival received much press preceding the event, including advance announcements in DCist, Roll Call, Fine Books Blog and by Fox 5.

Stories on festival coverage continue to trickle in, but the Washington Post reported immediately following the event. Because the festival was moved to a new, indoor venue this year, its change in location received media attention.

“As thousands upon thousands of readers of all ages filled the cavernous conference halls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — and lined up to buy books signed by their favorite authors — organizers let out a collective sigh,” wrote Post reporter Brigid Schulte. “It worked.”

While the Library’s Civil War exhibition closed earlier this year, its resources continue to make news. One of the highlights on display included the diary of LeRoy Gresham, an invalid teenager who chronicled the war. The Library in August posted a letter online by his mother written following his death, along with LeRoy’s full seven-volume, five-year journal.

“The diary, which the Library thinks has never been published, is a fascinating look at the war through the eyes of a precocious Southern youngster who was largely housebound by illness,” wrote Michael Ruane for The Washington Post. ”Mary Gresham’s letter, which the Library thinks has never before appeared in a public forum, is a voice from outside the journal. She is the offstage presence but has been watching her son’s deteriorating health and approaching death.”

In other news on the Library’s Civil War resources, the institution recently acquired a new 150-year old tintype to ad to its vast collection of wartime images. The photograph, donated by longtime Library supporter Tom Liljenquist, features a young Confederate soldier with his servant, who is also dressed for battle.

“The photograph is a tiny window into the past, but it also presents modern Americans with an enduring image of the role of race in the United States,” wrote Ruane for the Post. “It portrays two men who are bound, willingly or unwillingly, in a common story.”

And, perhaps because of its exhibitions and collections, the Library of Congress was named a 2014 Travelers’ Choice, Top 25 Landmarks in the United States by TripAdvisor.

Lastly, the Library’s preservation work continues to make headlines. Recently, the institution began efforts to study the longevity of compact discs.

Preservationists are worried that a lot of key information stored on CDs — from sound recordings to public records — is going to disappear. Some of those little silver discs are degrading, and researchers at the Library of Congress are trying to figure out why,” wrote Sarah Tilotta for NPR. “In a basement lab at the library, Fenella France opens up the door to what looks like a large wine cooler. Instead, it’s filled with CDs. France, head of the Preservation, Research and Testing Division here, says the box is a place where, using temperature controls, a CD’s aging process can be sped up.”

“France says part of what they are trying to do here is determine the minimal conditions needed for libraries and archives everywhere to preserve CDs.”

CBS News also featured a story on the Library’s research. “As for preserving the library’s collection, France and her team plan to test the CDs every three to five years to make sure as little as possible is lost to history.”

 

Abraham Lincoln’s “Blind Memorandum”

(The following is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.) Could George B. McClellan have become the seventeenth President of the United States? It certainly appeared to be a possibility as Abraham Lincoln assessed the military and political landscape of the United States in the summer of […]

Library in the News: March 2014 Edition

March news headlines included a variety of stories about the Library of Congress. Of particular interest was a 10,000-item milestone – with the addition of a set of priceless manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum of Baltimore to the online Library-cosponsored World Digital Library, which now holds more than 10,000 items following its 2009 launch. […]

Highlighting the Holidays: A Special Telegram

On Dec. 22, 1864, William T. Sherman sent President Abraham Lincoln a telegram that included a pretty monumental “gift,” according to the Civil War general. “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also about 25.000 bales of cotton. W. T. […]

InRetrospect: November Blogging Edition

The Library of Congress blogosphere was a cornucopia of posts on special holidays and  more. Here is just a taste. In the Muse: Performing Arts Blog #Britten100: Benjamin Britten & Peter Pears at the Library November 22  marked the hundredth birthday of British composer Benjamin Britten. Inside Adams: Science, Technology & Business Civil War Thanksgiving […]

Inquiring Minds: Commemorating the Gettysburg Address with Author Jonathan Hennessey

A 10-year veteran of the film and television production industry, Jonathan Hennessey is a Los Angeles-based writer. Hennessey is the author of “The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation,” on which he collaborated with illustrator Aaron McConnell. In their newest work, “The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation,” the duo commemorate the 150th anniversary of this […]

Recite the Gettysburg Address

On Nov. 19, 1862 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the cemetery at the Civil War battlefield. One of the most famous speeches in American history, the speech is recognized as a literary masterpiece. In three short paragraphs—some 270 words—Lincoln proclaimed the principles upon which the nation was founded, honored […]

A Congressional Legacy: The Peter Force Library

Purchased through an act of Congress in 1867, the Peter Force Library became the foundation of the Library’s Americana collections.  As the nation sought to reconstruct the Union after the Civil War, so, too, did the Library of Congress seek to build a collection that documented fully America’s history. At the time, the nearly 100,000 volumes […]

Carrying a Torch — Ours!

With the Library of Congress National Book Festival just days away (it’s a week from this weekend, Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22, free of charge on the National Mall) we have a lot to share in addition to more than 100 best-selling authors for readers of all ages.  One of the great stops […]