Hello. Welcome to “Insights.”
Here we’ll tell the story of top scholars in residence at The John W. Kluge Center conducting research in the Library of Congress collections.
It’s a big topic, with much diversity. The Library of Congress enables research on an infinite number of subjects, and attracts some fascinating people to do it. Kluge scholars conduct residential research across all divisions of the Library, on topics ranging from astrobiology’s impact on society to the origins of realpolitik in American foreign policy; from the history of The Coca Cola Company to the intersection of politics and medicine in the history of mental health treatment in Brazil. Our scholars’ research speaks to an array of political, societal, and humanistic concerns. Their findings help illuminate truths about our world and the human condition.
The Library is the greatest collection of human knowledge ever assembled (158 million items and growing). Within these walls are centuries worth of ideas, discoveries, thoughts and innovations spanning cultures and nations past and present and in 470 different languages. To make sense of today’s world–it seems–scholars must trace the path of how we arrived at our current moment. No such reconstruction is complete without an expedition into the Library of Congress collections. To bring the world’s leading scholars to the Library of Congress to interact with these collections was the impetus for the Kluge Center’s creation in 2000. Endowed by philanthropist John W. Kluge, the Center allows top scholars the time and resources to dig deep into the collections on a continual basis. The time and space to conduct deep research enables remarkable insights to occur.
Our location on Capitol Hill allows us to make these insights accessible to America’s lawmakers. Explaining the importance of our scholars’ research to policymakers is essential to what we do. We don’t advocate. We take no political positions. Rather, we seek to inspire reflection and deeper understanding. The research borne from use of the Library’s collections often raises profound questions about our past, our present, and elements of our human nature. We share these questions (and answers) with political Washington and the broader public. In the words of Librarian of Congress James H. Billington upon occasion of the Kluge Center’s founding, “The Library will seek to be catalytic rather than bureaucratic, to deepen rather than merely recycle the work of other fine institutions and individuals in the Washington area who also seek to bridge this gap between thinkers and doers.” We hope that our scholars provide leaders, thinkers and scholars with dispassionate wisdom and longer-term perspectives.
We also administer the Kluge Prize, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the study of humanity. The Prize has recognized eight scholars to-date whose lifetime of research in the humanities and social sciences has influenced how we govern and understand our world. The Prize highlights the importance of humanities and social science research to the public interest. We’ll be writing more about our Prize winners in the months ahead.
As for us, the blog authors, you can read about us on the About page. We work at the Kluge Center. We’re passionate about what we do. We find our scholars utterly fascinating, and their research compelling. We take much pride in sharing it with you.
So sit back. Relax. Enjoy. Comment. Share your reactions to the insights borne from our scholars’ research. We’ll be accepting moderated comments from readers, of course, governed by rules of respectful, civil discourse and appropriateness.
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If you want to learn how to conduct your own research at the Library of Congress as a Kluge scholar, click here. We’ll tell you about fellowship opportunities and share information about senior chair positions. We also host dozens of free public programs each year.
We hope this blog informs, enlightens, and offers insights into the world around us. Welcome to Insights.