New Online: Website Updates, Presidential Papers, Federal Resources

(The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.) 

Website Resources

New in July is a new, responsive design for the Library’s Online Catalog, one of the most heavily used features of our website. Like other websites, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of users accessing our content using mobile devices – not only for basic information about the Library but also for research tools like the Online Catalog. The new catalog interface is responsive, resizing the elements on the screen to optimally fit the user’s device, whether phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The new user interface also simplifies and streamlines page layouts and type styles and improves accessibility for all patrons, including those with disabilities.

The new Online Catalog design features clean, mobile-friendly layouts.

The new Online Catalog design features clean, mobile-friendly layouts.

New in Manuscripts

From our Manuscript Division comes the Martin Van Buren Papers, one of the 23 collections of presidential papers residing in the Library. Never before online, the new presentation includes access to more than 6,000 items dating from 1787 to circa 1910. The bulk of the material dates from the 1820s, when Van Buren (1782-1862) was a U.S. senator from New York, through his service as secretary of state and vice president in the Andrew Jackson administrations (1829-1837), to his own presidency (1837-1841) and through the decade thereafter when he made unsuccessful bids to return to the presidency with the Democratic and Free Soil parties. Included are correspondence, autobiographical materials, notes and other writings, drafts of messages to Congress in 1837 and 1838 and other speeches, legal and estate records, miscellany and family items. The presentation also includes a handy timeline and a great selection of political cartoons from the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division featuring Van Buren.

Federal Register Resources

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for presidential documents, executive orders and proposed, interim and final rules and regulations, as well as notices by Federal Agencies and notices of hearings, decisions, investigations and committee meetings. The Federal Register has been published by the National Archives and Records Administration since 1936. Our new Federal Register online collection provides access to 14,586 issues of the Federal Register, covering the years 1936-1993. The Law Library of Congress blog provides a Beginner’s Guide that will help users understand the Federal Register and how to use it in research.

New in Exhibitions 

The "America Reads" online exhibition includes images from books that shaped America, such as this 1776 edition of Thomas Paine’s "Common Sense."

The “America Reads” online exhibition includes images from books that shaped America, such as this 1776 edition of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

In 2012, a group of curators and subject experts in the Library of Congress developed the institution’s popular exhibition, Books That Shaped America. The books chosen were not intended to be a list of the “best” books published in the United States. Rather, the group chose 88 core books by American authors that had, for a wide variety of reasons, a profound effect on American life. Knowing that opinions can be as varied as the number of people you ask, we urged the public to name “other books that shaped America” and to tell us which of the 88 core books on our list were most important to them. That survey forms the basis of a new online (and in-person) exhibition, America Reads. Thousands of readers responded with their choices. The Top 40 vote-getters for “other books that shaped America” are on display, along with the public’s top choices from our original 88 selections.

A Hamilton Mixtape, Library of Congress Style

Nominated for a record-setting 16 Tony Awards, “Hamilton” the musical swept the ceremony winning 11, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and a handful of best actor/actresses. The show is based on the Ron Chernow biography on founding father Alexander Hamilton, which Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the musical, had picked up on a whim […]

Have Exhibit, Will Travel

True or false? Visiting Washington, D.C. is the only way to enjoy the collections of the Library of Congress. False. The Library offers a rich treasure trove of its collections. Not only that, it loans items to other institutions and agencies for their exhibitions, as well as offers other institutions and cultural organizations the opportunity to […]

Celebrating Women: Women’s History on Pinterest

(The following blog post is by Jennifer Harbster, a science research specialist and blogger for the Library’s Science, Technology, and Busines blog, “Inside Adams.” Harbster also helped create the Library of Congress Women’s History Month board on Pinterest.) March is designated as Women’s History Month and this year the National Women’s History Project has selected […]

Pinteresting African American History

February is African American History Month, an annual celebration that has existed since 1926. This year’s theme, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture.” This year also marks the centennial of ASALH, which was established in 1915 by Carter G. […]

A Jefferson Book, Rediscovered in Law Library

(The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) A tiny, handwritten “T” at the bottom of page 113 offered a clue that this book – long part of the Law Library collections – needed a new home: the permanent exhibition of Thomas Jefferson’s library. […]

Inquiring Minds: The Document Man

Armed guards? Check. Secret rendezvous points? Check. Mysterious steel briefcase? Check. Sounds like a James Bond movie. But it’s just a day in the life of Christopher Woods, director of the National Conservation Service in Britain. By day, he’s a leading conservator in the field with more than 29 years experience working in the heritage […]

Curator’s Picks: Magna Carta’s Legal Legacy

(The following is an article in the November/December 2014 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue can be read in its entirety here.) Nathan Dorn, the Law Library’s curator of rare books, highlights five favorite pieces from the Library’s Magna Carta exhibition. Statutes of England “Intricate colored-pen work graces this 14th-century miniature […]

Library in the News: November 2014 Edition

The Library of Congress featured prominently in November news with the opening of a special exhibition and the celebration of a special individual. On Nov. 6, “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” opened with much fanfare, featuring the 1215 Magna Carta, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral in England and one of only four surviving copies issued […]

My Job at the Library: David Mao

(The following is an article in the November/December 2014 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue can be read in its entirety here.) Law Librarian of Congress David Mao discusses his career path to the world’s largest law library. What are your responsibilities as Law Librarian of Congress? I see the position […]