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 hyperallergic.com. “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.”
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.”
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 bustle.com.
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.