Library in the News, 4/25/07

The New York Times reports on the makeshift shrines that have been erected to the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, and the role the Library of Congress will play in helping ensure their preservation.

From the article (registration required):

University officials are consulting with experts from the Library of Congress, which compiled materials from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and from Syracuse University, where tens of thousands of letters, artworks, newspaper clippings and other original documents form an archive of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.”We are calling them in because it is new to us,” said Eileen E. Hitchingham, dean of libraries at Virginia Tech.

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The collections specialists at the Library of Congress have been asked to help Virginia Tech archive its digital material, said Jeremy E. Adamson, the library’s director of collections and services. The library’s American Folklife Center is interested in setting up a recording booth on campus, like one used after Sept. 11 at ground zero, to collect oral history.

Peggy A. Bulger, director of the folklife center, said items left at spontaneous shrines like the ones at Virginia Tech were a form of folklife art because they were an aesthetic way that people express themselves.

“This is going to be very important for people who will be studying later about what happened and what people’s reactions were,” Ms. Bulger said, referring to the archival process. “It’s absolutely a critical part of filling in the gaps of history. This is the emotional glue that really fills in everything.”

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