Reflecting on a new year

January 2021

LC LABS LETTER
A Monthly Roundup of News and Thoughts from the Library of Congress Labs Team

Reflecting on a new season

When people hear the word “innovation,” they may think of doing things in a way that is new and, for lack of a better word, “unprecedented.” In a time and world where so many circumstances appear unprecedented, we invite you to consider a slightly different framing–we believe that, sometimes, doing something innovative can mean stepping back, reflecting, and looking at things from a fresh perspective.

In next month’s newsletter, we will return to sharing updates about current projects and opportunities. But for now, we invite you to reflect on a selection of Library of Congress resources that help us both understand the past and explore the future.

Contemporary Conversations

The Digital Strategy, which guides our team’s work, prompts the Library to build lifelong relationships with every visit, bring the Library to our users, welcome other voices, and drive momentum in our communities.

These three leaders help us reflect on what that may look like. 

“Cultural institutions like libraries and museums are offering historical context but also reexamining [how] we present information and history to our publics and making sure that we are part of a solution…” 

“History has to be spoken about as a conversation because ultimately, that’s what it is.” 

“…how [can we] engage Americans all over the country in the question of how we tell our story[?] Can we be inventive and creative and find ways of being honest about our past without slipping into cynicism and find ways of being appreciative of our past without slipping into deification?” 

Cultural Materials Past and Present 

The Digital Strategy also directs us to “throw open the treasure chest.” A lot is happening at the Library of Congress to make historical documents available and bring new creative works into the collection. The treasure chest is opening— time to dig in!

Reference librarians Catalina Gómez and Talía Guzmán-González discuss the newly renamed PALABRA Archive, containing recordings of over 800 poets and writers from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and other regions with Luso-Hispanic heritage populations, in these Online Office Hours.

The “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words” Online Exhibit features never-before-seen historical documents sharing Rosa Park’s perspective on seminal moments in the Civil Right Movement.

The Boccaccio Project adapts a Renaissance classic for a modern audience in this series of musical responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recent digitization of the papers of 23 American presidents from George Washington (1732-1799) to Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), makes it possible for all Americans to explore these historical documents firsthand.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps offer a glimpse into the histories of local places in the United States. Have a look at how someplace important to you is represented in this collection.

As a new year dawns, we want to hear from you. 

What’s one way we can invite your community to participate in the Library’s digital transformation? What’s the most important thing you’d like to see from us in 2021?

We want to hear about it: [email protected].

Thank you and be well.

 

To get the monthly LC Labs Letter directly in your inbox, visit //updates.loc.gov/accounts/USLOC/subscriber/new?topic_id=USLOC_182

For more information about LC Labs, visit us at https://labs.loc.gov/

Questions? Contact LC Labs at [email protected]

Newspaper Navigator Search Application Now Live!

On September 15, 2020, the Library of Congress announced the release of Newspaper Navigator, an experimental web application which makes 1.5 million photographs from the dataset from Chronicling America available to the public to explore for the first time. Read more about the design and features of the project below or jump straight to the newly launched application at //news-navigator.labs.loc.gov/search !

Innovator Brian Foo Incorporates “Citizen DJs” into Design Process

The following is a guest post by Innovator in Residence Brian Foo, creator of Citizen DJ. The Citizen DJ project invites the public to make music using the free-to-use audio and video collections from the Library of Congress. The project will feature online tools for exploring and remixing tens of thousands of sounds from a variety of collections ranging from music to government film to oral histories. 

Library’s Collections Come to Life as 3D Models

The 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group was created to explore the use of 3D technologies to expand access to the Library’s collections. In Fall 2019, the working group launched a pilot in which a limited selection of items from the online collections were 3D scanned and the 3D models made publicly available. In […]

LC Labs Letter: December 2019

LC LABS LETTER A Monthly Roundup of News and Thoughts from the Library of Congress Labs Team Keeping up with the Innovators This month, Brian Foo and Ben Lee came back to the Library to gather feedback from staff in the early stages of their project and to showcase working prototypes. Brian presented his project […]

Women’s History Month Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

This is a guest post from Sarah Osborne Bender, Director of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I graduated from library school in 2001, just months after Wikipedia was launched. So as a freshly minted information professional, it is no surprise that I fell […]

Digital Content and Digital Preservation at The Henry Ford

At the Museum is an interview series highlighting the variety of digital collections in museums and the interesting people working to create and preserve these collections. For this installment I interviewed Ellice Engdahl, Digital Collections & Content Manager, and Brian Wilson, Digital Access and Preservation Archivist, at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. Sue: Tell us […]

At the Museum: An Interview with Marla Misunas (and Friends) of SFMOMA, Pt. Two

We are continuing the previous interview with Marla Misunas of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, this time including two of her colleagues:  Layna White, Head of Collections Information and Access at SFMOMA, and Mark Hellar, consultant and owner of Hellar Studios LLC. Mark is currently working on new media conservation initiatives at SFMOMA, including […]

At the Museum: An Interview with Marla Misunas of SFMOMA, Pt. 1

At the Museum is a new interview series highlighting the variety of digital collections in museums and the interesting people working to create and preserve these collections. For this first installment, I interview Marla Misunas, Collections Information Manager for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Marla gives us some great detail about her role […]