Library in the News: September 2015 Edition

In September, the Library of Congress had some big headlines – from the announcements of new collections to celebrating the 15th annual National Book Festival and the inaugural reading of the new poet laureate.

The Library received a very special visitor and a very special book to add to its collections last month. During his tour of Washington, D.C., Pope Francis visited the Unites States Capitol. In his honor, the Library was given the Apostles Edition of The Saint Johns’ Bible, which was a gift from Saint John’s Abbey and University. The Bible is currently on view in the Library’s Jefferson Building though Jan. 2, 2016.

News outlets nationwide were covering the papal visit to the nation’s capital, including his stop at the Library.

“The bible isn’t particularly old or historically significant,” wrote Allison Meier for “What the Saint John’s Bible represents is an effort to create artistic bibles in the mode of illuminated books of yesteryear, except reflecting present-day life and society.”

“This is some Bible,” wrote Steve Kraske for The Kansas City Star. “There are only 12 like it. It’s 1,130 pages. It contains 160 illustrations. It measures 2 feet by 3 feet when open. And it’s the first handwritten Bible commissioned in more than 500 years.”

“The pope also has received an Apostle’s edition, but we have an entirely different copy,” Mark Dimunation, chief of the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division, told WTOP.

In September, the Library also acquired the papers of comedian Jerry Lewis.

The Daily Progress (VA) spoke with the Library Moving Image Curator Rob Stone.

“It’s unlike a lot of collections where you get somebody’s films and they’re the films that everyone has seen and it’s great to have, but with this collection it goes much deeper because he sometimes turned on the camera just to turn it on,” he said of Lewis’ collection. “So the things you capture were really unique.”

Also running stories were the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and the Washington Times.

The 15th annual National Book Festival received lots of news coverage.

NBC News highlighted the festival’s Hispanic programming, calling it a “vibrant Latino presence.”

“Optimism about the future of American storytelling was the mood of the day, even among traditional publishers,” wrote Bridey Heing in her coverage of the festival for The Guardian.

Novelist Louise Erdrich was presented with the Library of Congress American Fiction Prize at the festival.

“I’m writing out of the mixture of cultures,” said the mixed-race Native American author to her festival audience. Her presentation was also covered by The Guardian. “Knowing both sides of my family really infused my life with a sense that I lived in many times and in many places as many people. It was never just me. I was always filled with the stories, the humor, the loss. Because, of course, we are all part of this great loss that occurred.”

Other festival coverage came from CBS News, WTOP, BlogcriticsSchool Library Journal and Fine Books & Collections Magazine, among many others.

Juan Felipe Herrera, the nation’s new poet laureate, was also a featured presenter at the book festival. There, he launched his project, La Casa De Colores.

“Herrera hopes La Casa de Colores will draw out diverse voices and experiences from across the U.S. to create a single, collaborative poem,” wrote Kristian Wilson for

Herrera followed his festival debut with his Library debut a couple of weeks later, launching the Library’s literary season.

“If there were any doubt, Herrera, the first Mexican American U.S. poet laureate, made it clear Tuesday night that he’s bringing a new sense of wonder and drama to the position,” wrote Ron Charles for The Washington Post. “His inaugural reading was infused with humility and graciousness, but it was also an elaborately choreographed event informed by his years as a teacher and activist.

“Along with Herrera’s expressive poetry readings about exiles, civil rights, immigration and unity, it was the ‘corrido,’ a Mexican ballad, performed with Juan Díes from the Sones de Mexico Ensemble, about the death of Sandra Bland that filled the more than 300-member audience with emotion,” said Grace Toohey for MClatchy News Service.

Herrera stopped by NPR before his lecture at the Library and read an excerpt from a poem he was writing for the evening.

The Joy of Reading

The following is an article, written by Jennifer Gavin of the Library’s Office of Communications, for the September/October 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Library of Congress promotes the pleasure and power of reading. Thomas Jefferson famously stated, “I cannot live without […]

National Book Festival Redux

(The following article, written by Mark Hartsell, was featured in the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) “I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson famously once said. The 15th National Book Festival last week provided evidence that plenty of others can’t, either. Thousands of book lovers descended on the Washington Convention Center on Saturday […]

With Largest Cast Ever, Festival is One For the Books

(The following is an article written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) The Library of Congress National Book Festival next weekend opens its latest chapter with a few new plots and the largest cast of characters in festival history. The 15th annual festival will offer its biggest-ever roster of […]

History You Could Really Sink Your Teeth Into

E.L. Doctorow, a giant of American letters who uplifted the genre of the historical novel, died yesterday at the age of 84. The author of “Ragtime,” “World’s Fair,” “Billy Bathgate,” “The March,” “Welcome to Hard Times” and “Andrew’s Brain,” among many other works of fiction, will be much missed. Doctorow was the recipient of the […]

Book Festival Blogging

Calling all readers, the new Library of Congress National Book Festival blog launched this week! It’s one of the many ways that we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the nation’s premier celebration of books and reading. This year’s festival will take place during Labor Day weekend on Saturday, September 5, 2015, at the Walter […]

See it Now: Columbus’s Book of Privileges

On January 5, 1502, prior to his fourth and final voyage to America, Christopher Columbus gathered several judges and notaries in his home in Seville to authorize the authentic copies of his archival collection of original documents through which Queen Isabella of Castille and her husband, King Ferdinand of Aragon, had granted titles, revenues, powers […]

Poem Dedicated to Library Published as Children’s Book

(The following is a guest post by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.) Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003), creator of the Library’s Poetry 180 website, has just published his first illustrated children’s book with artist Karen Romagna. The book features Collins’ poem “Voyage,” which […]

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 […]

Pics of the Week: 2014 National Book Festival

Now in its 14th year, the Library of Congress National Book Festival welcomed book lovers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — a new venue for this year — on Saturday. More than 100 authors, poets and illustrators were featured throughout the day and evening, packing crowds into pavilions such as History & Biography, […]