The Library is a place of superlatives–the biggest this, the first that–and now we’ve added another one to the list that will be a great benefit to patrons in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (and off-site). This week Mark Sweeney, chief of the Serial and Government Publications Division, along with assistant chief Teri […]
(The following is a guest post by my colleague Donna Urschel.) Did you ever wonder how the literary giants create their work? Does it just pour out of them effortlessly? Or is there some sort of magic trick? On April 1, master poet Kay Ryan, the 16th Poet Laureate of the United States, will provide […]
(This is a guest post by Audrey Fischer of the Library’s Public Affairs Office) Whether you know her as half of the “Kathie Lee & Hoda” show or as veteran broadcast journalist and co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s Today Show, come to the Library of Congress this Friday to hear Hoda Kotb speak about […]
Top o’ the Morning to you! Even though I’m only one-quarter Irish, millions of folks, even those without a drop of Irish blood, are celebrating the wearing o’ the green today. Our Prints and Photographs Division decided to mark the day by putting out a call to picture-lovers to post “now” images of locations in […]
Most musicians probably would be satisfied during a performance with a single standing ovation. But at a rousing concert Tuesday in the Coolidge Auditorium, the crowd leapt to their feet in applause no less than four times for a half dozen of country music’s most popular and influential stars—and even surprise “guest performer” Librarian of […]
A bunch of ninth-grade girls got in touch with their favorite radio station, making a song request for a tune by one of their favorite artists. But they couldn’t resist the chance to raise that universal complaint: “Why, why, why, why do you always repeat the same songs?” It could have been from the suburbs […]
Art and science, and sometimes art and politics, mirror each other in times of rapid change. Robert Hughes made that case in his history of modern art – noting it moved from straight representation to pointillism, cubism, and abstraction as science checked off its discoveries of the 20th Century, such as X-rays and the structure […]
Ever wonder what goes on before an exhibition is mounted and displayed? My colleague Donna Urschel takes an in-depth look at the preservation steps that were required for the Library’s “Herblock!” exhibition, on display through May 1: Preserving ‘Herblock’ a Rewarding Job for Conservators by Donna Urschel Shortly after the famous Washington Post political cartoonist […]
Even for many of those who might yawn their way through the gridiron action on Sunday between New Orleans and Indianapolis, they will perk right up and stare intently at the screen during the station breaks. Super Bowl commercials have become something of an event of their own, alongside the actual game. The Inside Adams […]
(The following is a guest article about new preservation capabilities at the LOC by my colleague Donna Urschel, which was recently published in the the Library’s staff newsletter, the Gazette.)
For many decades, details of the 1791 Pierre L’Enfant Plan of Washington, D.C.—one of the many treasures at the Library of Congress—had been obscured. A long-ago application of a varnish preservative had darkened the map’s surface. But today, thanks to special imaging techniques, the invisible streets and special locations, including the “President’s House” and “Congress’ House,” pop out.
Hyperspectral imaging, a process of taking digital photos of an object using distinct portions of the light spectrum, is revealing what previously could not be seen by the human eye.
In room 27 on the sub-basement level of the James Madison Building, fascinating details of our historical heritage are coming to light in the recently opened Optical Properties Laboratory. Operated by the Library’s Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) in the Preservation Directorate, the lab contains a hyperspectral imaging system, an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM), equipment for optical disc quality testing and a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) system.
The new lab enhances the Library’s capability to use nondestructive analytical techniques to track changes in optical properties of materials, helping conservators, curators and librarians extend the life of the collections. Along the way, many interesting details about the documents are revealed.
The Optical Properties Lab is one of three new labs in the Preservation Directorate. Two more will open in the Madison Building in 2010: the Chemical and Physical Properties laboratories. The new equipment and redesigned space will bring the 30-year-old science labs of the Preservation Directorate into the 21st century.