LC in the News: June 2014 Edition

The Library of Congress welcomed Charles Wright as the institution’s 20th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2014-2015. Several major news outlets ran stories.

“Our next poet laureate may end up speaking on behalf of the more private duties of the poet — contemplation, wisdom, searching — rather than public ones,” said reporter Craig Morgan Teicher for NPR. “While he might not be planning to pound the national pavement during his laureate year, Wright has plenty to tell us if he lets his poems do the talking.”

“Mr. Wright, who along with his wife, Holly, a photographer, spends part of every summer at a remote cabin in northwest Montana without a telephone, said he would devote some time over the next few months to pondering his new public role,” wrote the New York Times’ Jennifer Schuessler.

Washington Post reporter Ron Charles spoke with Librarian of Congress James H. Billington on his selecting Wright as Poet Laureate. “As I was reading through the finalists, I always kept returning to this man who wrote so beautifully and movingly about important things without self-importance but with extraordinary skill and beauty.”

In other literary news, the Library also announced in June that approximately 1,000 pages of love letters between 29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding and his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, will be opened July 29 with an event July 22.

Running stories were Politico and USA Today.

Continuing the make headlines are the Library’s audio-visual initiatives and preservation efforts.

The institution recently acquired a video archive of thousands of hours of interviews—The HistoryMakers—that captures African-American life, history and culture as well as the struggles and achievements of the black experience.

“Julieanna Richardson, the founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, said the Library of Congress was the ideal home for the project,” wrote Tanzina Vega of the New York Times. “‘The slaves will now be joined with their progeny,”’ Ms. Richardson added, in reference to the library’s slave narratives archives, which include more than 2,300 first-person accounts that the Works Progress Administration collected in the 1930s.”

CBS Evening and Morning News also ran a story.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Preservation makes regular appearances in the news. CNN reported on its efforts to convert historical analog sound recordings and moving images into digital format in order to preserve them for the future.

“It’s an exhaustive job. Between 1.5 million film, television and video items, and another 3.5 million sound recordings, the 114 staff members here have their work cut out for them” wrote John Bena for CNN. “Collecting and cataloging over 120 years of recorded American history may seem to be a daunting task. But the preservation of these deteriorating items is currently one of the most pressing missions for the library.”

Speaking of early recordings, Boise Weekly reported on the Library’s efforts to make those available online. “The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., has been ahead of the curve on this trend, placing many of its vast resources on the web, including a gorgeous collection of early video recordings, many of which are well over a century old.” The story included several video clips, including a Sioux Indian dance and Annie Oakley shooting targets.

And, thanks to IRENE, a digital-imaging device, the Library has made strides in preserving sound as well. The Atlantic delved into how the device works and the various  mediums the Library has been able to preserve.

See It Now: Our Fourth President

On June 28, 1836, President James Madison passed away at age 85 – the last of the nation’s Founding Fathers. His public service had a symmetry to it. He had served in several positions, each for eight years: first as a member of Congress, followed by the same span as Secretary of State, then finally […]

Bringing the “Banner” to Light

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InRetrospect: May 2014 Blogging Edition

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214 Years Young

The Library of Congress celebrates its 214th birthday today. Founded on April 24, 1800, thanks to an appropriation approved by Pres. John Adams of $5,000 for the purchase of “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.” What started with a whopping 740 books and three maps has evolved to more than […]