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 […]

Where Poetry Lives

The Library of Congress’s poetry blog, From the Catbird Seat,” has run a few posts on Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s second-term project, “Where Poetry Lives.” For her project, Trethewey has joined NewsHour Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown for a series of on-location reports in various cities across the United States to explore several large societal issues, through […]

A Spoonful of Serendipity

 (The following is a guest post from Mike Mashon, head of the Moving Image Section in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.) The Library of Congress’s collection of television programs is broad and deep, consistently revealing some rather unexpected finds. A recent case in point: in the course of selecting two-inch Quadruplex tapes […]

A Celebration of Mexico: A Revolutionary Film

This Thursday and Friday, the Library of Congress is hosting a special “Celebration of Mexico” to honor the culture and history of Hispanic Americans and highlight the Library’s collection of Hispanic materials, which is the largest in the world. During the event, the Library will present the world premiere of the oldest-known documentary footage of […]

A Celebration of Mexico: Masterpieces of Aztec Material Culture

One in 10 people living in the United States of America is of Mexican origin. One in five Americans is Hispanic. The Library of Congress is hosting a special “Celebration of Mexico” next month to honor this segment of the population and provide some important educational opportunities along the way. The Library has the largest […]

The Feminine Mystique at 50

(The following is a guest post by Audrey Fischer, editor of the Library of Congress Magazine.) It’s been 50 years since pioneering women’s rights activist Betty Friedan stunned the nation with her controversial book, “The Feminine Mystique.” In what became known as a manifesto, Friedan urged women to eschew the cult of domesticity and address […]

Congress.gov Three-Week Check-Up

(The following is a guest post from the Library’s Director of Communications, Gayle Osterberg.) In its first three weeks of life (still a newborn!) Congress.gov has attracted almost 45,000 visitors and is approaching a quarter million page views, as people find time to explore the new site and some of its features. It has been […]

This is Maverick Requesting a Fly By

Today marked a rather monumental occasion as the space shuttle Discovery made its final flight – not to the stars but to its permanent home at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles, Va. Library of Congress staff members were able to capture its final spin, as it took a few turns […]