My Job at the Library: Connecting Teachers with Primary Sources

(The following is an article from the January/February 2017 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine, in which Danna Bell of the Library’s Educational Outreach Office discusses her job. The issue can be read in its entirety here.)

 

Danna Bell. Photo by Abby Brack Lewis.

Danna Bell. Photo by Abby Brack Lewis.

How would you describe your work at the Library?
I am production coordinator for the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog. I write blog posts and contribute to our Twitter feed. The goal of the Educational Outreach Office is to make primary sources an integral part of classroom activities. Primary sources can engage students and encourage critical thinking, analysis and exploration. I assist in the creation of teacher resources, including Primary Source Sets and eBooks. My favorite task is serving as the team’s Ask a Librarian contact, answering questions from teachers throughout the world.

How did you prepare for your current position?
I have a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in college student personnel from Miami University. After serving as a dorm director and an academic counselor, I needed a change. When I considered other careers, I realized I enjoy providing information. That, along with a love of libraries bred by the Enoch Pratt library system in Baltimore, my hometown, led me to librarianship.

I started at the Library of Congress in 1998 as part of the National Digital Library, providing reference support for the Library’s American Memory project—a gateway to the Library’s rich primary-source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. I subsequently worked with the Digital Reference Section and later joined Educational Outreach.

I have held leadership positions in several professional associations. I served as president of the Society of American Archivists in 2013–14.

How has technology changed the way the Library shares its resources with students and educators?
Digitizing and providing online access to the resources of the Library of Congress in the early 1990s coincided with school districts asking teachers to use primary sources in the classroom. That was truly perfect timing!

The explosion of educational technology has spurred our work. We have converted several Primary Source Sets into eBooks. We reach teachers through webinars and our Teaching with Primary Sources partners. Teachers can also access content when it’s convenient for them on the Library of Congress YouTube page.

How can the Library help educators teach students about the electoral process?
As the home of the papers of 23 American presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge, the Library has much to offer teachers and students in the way of election history. A special online presentation documents the presidential inaugurations. The Library’s Chronicling America website allows users to see how historical newspapers (1789–1922) covered the presidents.

Educational Outreach staff recently updated our online “Elections” feature. The Law Library of Congress and the Library’s Prints and Photographs and Music Divisions also have special online presentations about elections and inaugurations.

In the case of 21st-century elections, the Library has been archiving websites pertaining to presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections since 2000.

World War I: Online Offerings

(The following was written for the March/April 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read editions of past issues here.) With the most comprehensive World War I collections in the nation, we are uniquely equipped to tell the story of America’s involvement in the Great War through our website. Today we launched a […]

Experts’ Corner: Presidential Podcasts

(The following article is from the January/February 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Library of Congress historians Julie Miller, Barbara Bair and Michelle Krowl contribute their knowledge of the presidents to a new podcast series. In 2016, The Washington Post presented a podcast series called […]

Curator’s Picks: Surrogate First Ladies

(The following article is featured in the January/February 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Manuscript Division specialists Julie Miller, Barbara Bair and Michelle Krowl discuss some non-spousal first ladies. Martha Jefferson Randolph Because Thomas Jefferson was a widower when he became president, Dolley Madison, […]

Campaigning for President

(The following was written by Julie Miller, Barbara Bair and Michelle Krowl, historians in the Library’s Manuscript Division, for the January/February 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Presidential candidates have used popular culture to promote their campaigns for nearly 200 years. Today’s political […]

Trending: The Inauguration Will Not (Just) Be Televised

(The following post is featured in the January/February 2017 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, and was written by Audrey Fischer, LCM editor. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The inauguration of the 45th president will be the social media event of the year. Today, social media provides an unlimited […]

Witnesses to History

(The following was written by Barbara Orbach Natanson, head of the reference section in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, and featured in the November/December 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Library’s documentary photograph collections provide a rich, visual record of the […]

Ladies Behind the Lens

(The following is an article, written by Brett Carnell and Helena Zinkham of the Prints and Photographs Division, for the November/December 2016 Library of Congress Magazine.) “If one is the possessor of health and strength, a good news instinct … a fair photographic outfit, and the ability to hustle, which is the most necessary qualification, […]

The Power of Photography

(The following is a feature story from the November/December 2016 Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, that was written by Helena Zinkham, director of the Library’s Collections and Services Directorate and chief of the Prints and Photographs Division. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)  What do Marilyn Monroe, Civil War soldiers and the Wright Brothers […]

Page from the Past: War of the Worlds

(The following was written by Audrey Fischer for the July/August 2016 Library of Congress Magazine, LCM.) The story is legendary in the annals of broadcasting history. On the evening of Sunday, Oct. 30, 1938, a young Orson Welles directed and narrated a radio adaption of H.G. Wells’ novel, “The War of the Worlds” for his […]