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 for The Washington Post. “If the scope of that effort has narrowed in recent years, with a reliance on old favorites and warhorses, at least the evidence of its flourishing is preserved under glass.”

The Washington Post Express also ran a photo essay on two images on display in the exhibition.

The opening of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) exhibition also celebrated the Library’s acquisition of the dance company’s archives.

“[The Library of Congress] seemed like a natural fit, as we are a national company,” said Rachel Moore, ABT’s chief executive, who spoke with Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times.

The National Book Festival received much press preceding the event, including advance announcements in DCist, Roll Call, Fine Books Blog and by Fox 5.

Stories on festival coverage continue to trickle in, but the Washington Post reported immediately following the event. Because the festival was moved to a new, indoor venue this year, its change in location received media attention.

“As thousands upon thousands of readers of all ages filled the cavernous conference halls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — and lined up to buy books signed by their favorite authors — organizers let out a collective sigh,” wrote Post reporter Brigid Schulte. “It worked.”

While the Library’s Civil War exhibition closed earlier this year, its resources continue to make news. One of the highlights on display included the diary of LeRoy Gresham, an invalid teenager who chronicled the war. The Library in August posted a letter online by his mother written following his death, along with LeRoy’s full seven-volume, five-year journal.

“The diary, which the Library thinks has never been published, is a fascinating look at the war through the eyes of a precocious Southern youngster who was largely housebound by illness,” wrote Michael Ruane for The Washington Post. ”Mary Gresham’s letter, which the Library thinks has never before appeared in a public forum, is a voice from outside the journal. She is the offstage presence but has been watching her son’s deteriorating health and approaching death.”

In other news on the Library’s Civil War resources, the institution recently acquired a new 150-year old tintype to ad to its vast collection of wartime images. The photograph, donated by longtime Library supporter Tom Liljenquist, features a young Confederate soldier with his servant, who is also dressed for battle.

“The photograph is a tiny window into the past, but it also presents modern Americans with an enduring image of the role of race in the United States,” wrote Ruane for the Post. “It portrays two men who are bound, willingly or unwillingly, in a common story.”

And, perhaps because of its exhibitions and collections, the Library of Congress was named a 2014 Travelers’ Choice, Top 25 Landmarks in the United States by TripAdvisor.

Lastly, the Library’s preservation work continues to make headlines. Recently, the institution began efforts to study the longevity of compact discs.

Preservationists are worried that a lot of key information stored on CDs — from sound recordings to public records — is going to disappear. Some of those little silver discs are degrading, and researchers at the Library of Congress are trying to figure out why,” wrote Sarah Tilotta for NPR. “In a basement lab at the library, Fenella France opens up the door to what looks like a large wine cooler. Instead, it’s filled with CDs. France, head of the Preservation, Research and Testing Division here, says the box is a place where, using temperature controls, a CD’s aging process can be sped up.”

“France says part of what they are trying to do here is determine the minimal conditions needed for libraries and archives everywhere to preserve CDs.”

CBS News also featured a story on the Library’s research. “As for preserving the library’s collection, France and her team plan to test the CDs every three to five years to make sure as little as possible is lost to history.”

 

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