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 in 1215. The exhibition celebrates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and also marks the 75th anniversary of Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta’s first visit to the Library of Congress. In 1939, the Library safeguarded the document during WWII.

“It may look like any other crinkly piece of paper under glass, but Magna Carta is to constitutional law what Louis Armstrong was to the trumpet,” wrote Geoff Edgers of The Washington Post.

The Washington Post Express also featured a story on Magna Carta and the Library’s exhibit.

On hand to open the exhibition was Britain’s Princess Anne. Covering the event was the Associated Press.

“Princess Anne said it is an important exhibition representing the shared values between the United States and the United Kingdom,” AP reported.

“We take so much for granted in terms of our freedoms and our expectations of freedoms and independence, and anniversaries such as this really are reminders of how far we have come in safeguarding our liberties,” she said. “Nearly 800 years ago, Magna Carta gave us our first concept of a society governed by the rule of law — a major step.

The UK newspaper The Telegraph also wrote about the opening.

Special to the Huffington Post, Sir Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the United States, wrote a blog post on Magna Carta.

“Earlier today, I was honoured to re-enact the 1939 handover, along with the current Marquess of Lothian, whose predecessor the eleventh Marquess was British Ambassador at the time. More importantly, the speech on behalf of my country was delivered by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne–the Queen’s daughter and, in fact, a descendant of King John. Which just goes to show how far we’ve come in a mere 800 years.”

In addition to the exhibit, the Library is presenting a series of lectures and events. Prior to the opening, a discussion of Magna Carta featured Chief Justice Roberts and Lord Igor Judge, a former chief justice of England and Wales.

The Wall Street Journal covered the event.

“The British did not give it over lightly, and I think they did so in a very calculated way,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “They wanted to remind us that this is what they were fighting for, sending a very strong message that you should be, too.”

Later in the month, the Library feted singer-songwriter Billy Joel with an all-star tribute concert as he formally accepted the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

“I’m starting to suspect that I have some kind of terminal disease,” Joel told USA Today in an interview before the Library of Congress event. “They keep giving me all these awards, and I’m thinking, ‘Are you trying to tell me something I don’t know?’ I mean, I’m 65 — I’m supposed to be irrelevant. I keep trying to have a dignified exit, and getting pulled back in.”

“Billy Joel has more than a few powerful friends in Washington with a musical legacy powerful enough to draw cheers from both sides of the political aisle Wednesday,” wrote Brett Zongker of the Associated Press.

Frances Stead Sellers of The Washington Post wrote, “[Wowed them] is pretty much what Joel and the musical stars who came to honor him — Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, Michael Feinstein, Leann Rimes, Twyla Tharp, among others — did Wednesday night. This crowd knew his stuff.”

Stories appeared in a variety of other news outlets across the U.S., from Washington to Utah to Louisiana to Michigan, and even in Europe and Canada.

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