LC Labs Letter: September 2020

September 2020


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


The Newspaper Navigator Search Interface has launched!

Breaking news! You can now visit //  to interactively browse over 1.5 million historic photos from the Chronicling America database of digitized newspapers. Innovator in Residence Ben Lee built this application to give users with all levels of technical experience a simplified and dynamic way to explore the Newspaper Navigator dataset, which he created by using a machine learning algorithm to identify and extract all the visual content in Chronicling America.

Ben’s search application for Newspaper Navigator allows site visitors to search for images by visual similarity. First, visitors enter a keyword and select relevant photos from the search results based on what they’re looking for. This trains a machine learning algorithm, called an “AI Navigator,” which then searches through the collection of images again but this time identifies only those that are visually similar to the ones selected by the user.

As a result, visitors to the site can reverse image search by training their very own machine learning “classifier” on the fly. Don’t take our word for it–visit the Newspaper Navigator experiment page to try it out yourself!


THIS WEEK: Citizen DJ Showcase premieres at the virtual National Book Festival

Reminder to tune in starting this Friday, September 25 to check out the Citizen DJ Showcase at the virtual National Book Festival. DJ Kid Koala will headline the Citizen DJ booth and feature his intercity beat tape featuring tracks made from creatives across the country using Library of Congress collections.

Select “Citizen DJ” under the “Explore the Library of Congress” tab to hear  these Citizen DJ sessions directly. Join the LIVE Q&A chat sessions to ask creator and Innovator in Residence Brian Foo questions about Citizen DJ and his work: Friday, September 25 from 3-5 pm and Saturday, September 26 from 2-4 pm.


Catch up on the Informal Virtual Audio Visual Summit

As you saw in last month’s newsletter, several units across the Library of Congress worked together to design and host an online conference for internal and external practitioners who work with audiovisual materials on September 15, 2020.

The event had over 400 attendees and over 30 speakers from all across the nation and world. In case you missed the impressive range of presentations, you can view the slides from all four thematic sessions (LC Share Out, Accessibility for All, A/V Makerspace, and Notes from the Field) on the LC Labs Event page: //

A captioned recording of the event will be available on this page in the coming weeks.


  • By the People celebrates its second anniversary! Read more about all this crowdsourced transcription program has been able to accomplish since its launch in 2018.
  • New from the Signal Blog: Digital Collections Specialist Marcus Nappier shares about how he learned to write a Format Description Document (FDD) in this recent post.
  • How are libraries and museums using visualizations to engage with digital collections? Recent Data Viz Society Nightingale journal post features LC Labs experiments among a list of projects from around the world!


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 // !

Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival

This post was originally featured on the Minerva’s Kaleidoscope blog for kids and families. We’re excited and grateful to be able to re-share about this opportunity to experience Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival next week!

LC Labs Letter: April 2020

LC LABS LETTER A Monthly Roundup of News and Thoughts from the Library of Congress Labs Team Editor’s Note As it did for many people across the country and all over the world, the month of March brought new ways of working and communicating and challenging, complex circumstances for the LC Labs team. We found […]

Newspaper Navigator Surfaces Treasure Trove of Historic Images – Get a Sneak Peek at Upcoming Data Jam!

Projects like Newspaper Navigator are busy unlocking even more digital content for members of the public to access from home. On May 7th at 2pm EST, Innovator in Residence Ben Lee will host a virtual data jam to experiment and play with thousands of images—including maps, advertisements, comics, and more!—from historical newspapers dating to the 1800s. In this post, Ben discusses his aspirations for engaging the American public with the millions of images he extracted from  Chronicling America.