2,454 Words About a 'Quiet' Poet

This week’s Newsweek has a lengthy profile of our Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. It’s a fascinating read, and I’d commend it to your attention.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Kay a few times and talking with her several more times, and I think the article does a wonderful job of capturing her personality, her take on the role of Poet Laureate, and what she believes is the essence of poetry. (I wrote about Kay at length here.)

By the way, if you hadn’t already seen, we were thrilled that Kay recently agreed to stay on as Poet Laureate for a second term. You’ll have the opportunity to see her firsthand at the National Book Festival on Sept. 26. (We will soon be announcing a much broader—and stellar—list of authors for this year’s NBF.)

Hey U, Tune In: The Library Is Now on iTunes U

Blog. Twitter. YouTube.  iTunes.  Yeah, we speak Web 2.0. You nation’s Library has millions of stories to tell, so we’re trying to tell them as many places and to as many people as possible–whether on our own website or elsewhere.  And now you can add another biggie to the list: iTunes U. For those who […]

New Teachers Site Is All 'Class'

Starting about two decades ago, the Library of Congress–under the direction of Librarian of Congress James Billington–began moving more ambitiously into the K-12 education space than it had previously. In 1990 the Library began a pilot program to distribute digital primary-source materials on CD-ROM to classrooms. The program, known as American Memory, has today blossomed […]

Souped-Up Chassis, More Horsepower

If you’ve visited this blog before, you might be doing a double-take. The Web Services team here at the Library (who are doing some simply amazing things) has given the blog a fresher look and new functionality. First, there’s a cleaner, more aesthetic look to it, and I like how the collections are now highlighted […]

Portraits — and Pot-Shots — in Song

Long before we were being sold something (through advertising jingles) or somebody (through campaign ads), presidential campaign seasons brought out the songwriter in many a partisan.  This unique niche of Americana is celebrated in a new Library of Congress exhibition on the web, titled “Voices, Votes, Victory: Presidential Campaign Songs.” The tradition of writing songs […]

Read All About It: Magnificent Milestone

Front page of Call-Chronicle-Examiner after 1906 San Francisco earthquakeMy capacity for metaphors is somewhat limited, so forgive me if I repeat a word I tweeted recently (“tweet-peat”?): Yesterday the Library and the NEH held a news conference celebrating the “odometer” of the Chronicling America program’s surpassing 1 million digitized pages from historic newspapers. Seven new partner states have been added, bringing the total to 22.

This past Friday morning, the site hosted more than 975,000 pages. That same day, the system was updated, bringing the total to 1,249,747 pages. Not to be too specific.

A text-heavy page of this morning’s Washington Post took me about 14 minutes to read, top to bottom. At that rate, I could read day and night for the next 33 years and still not get through every page on Chronicling America.

As I reported last week, the site itself has also been upgraded and enhanced for users.

If you haven’t taken the time to explore Chronicling America, give it a shot — but beware: If you love history, or if you delight in the quaint prose of American journalism circa 1900, you might find several hours elapse seemingly in minutes. As the media have reported (here and here, for instance), there are many great discoveries to be made.

As participants in the event noted, even though the pages are digitized from microfilm, searching them is a far cry from the days of hunching over a microfilm reader and turning a crank in (often vain) hopes of spotting the right article. The database is fully text-searchable, and searches can be restricted by a variety of variables such as date, state and newspaper. It also includes a sprawling listing of 140,000 newspapers published in America since 1690 with details on where to find those that don’t yet exist in digital form.

High-resolution images can be saved and printed, along with basic PDFs, and each page has its own permalink. Wouldn’t it be great to see some of them start showing up on sites like Wikipedia — for instance, the page above linked to the entry about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake?

A few months back, I speculated about what the 1 millionth page might be. Turns out it was too hard to pick just one, especially when so many partners are contributing so much. Instead, the partners picked 11 ceremonial “1 millionth pages” [PDF link], each with an interesting story to tell.

After the jump is an excerpt from remarks made at the news conference by Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum. (Below she is pictured at the podium with Acting NEH Chairman Carole Watson in the background. Photo courtesy of NEH by frasierphoto.com.)

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New Flickr Photo Set: Historic Newspapers

Media consumers today are bombarded with imagery of current events — some of them ephemeral, on our TV screens, and some more indelible. A century ago, the use of halftone images was beginning to revolutionize newspapers and bringing the immediacy of photography to the masses. Today the Library launched a new photostream on our Flickr […]

For Posterity … and for You, Too

The Library of Congress has released the 25 recordings selected this year to be preserved for all time as part of the National Recording Registry. They range from the old and classical (violinist Jascha Heifetz’ recordings for Victor Records early in the last century) to more recent rock (The Who, singing “My Generation”) and from […]

Extra, Extra! Chronicling America Newspaper Site Revamp

The Library’s tech elves have been laboring away in their workshop to upgrade the user experience on our Chronicling America website. Over recent weeks, the Library of Congress has implemented changes to Chronicling America that improve and expand use of historic American newspapers digitized for the National Digital Newspaper Program, a joint project with the […]