Awarded: April 2008
(b. June 1, 1929)
James Hadley Billington was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress on September 14, 1987. He is the 13th person to hold the position since the Library was established in 1800. Billington has championed the Library’s "American Memory" National Digital Library (NDL) Program, which makes freely available on-line nearly 11 million American historical items from the collections of the Library and other research institutions. The Library has placed online under his leadership a major bilingual Web site with the National Libraries of Russia and has launched similar joint projects with the national libraries of Brazil, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Egypt. Billington also created the Library’s first national private-sector advisory and support group, the James Madison Council. He is the founder of the Open World Program, a nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress that has brought more than 10,000 emerging young Russian political leaders to communities throughout America, and launched smaller pilot programs in Ukraine, Lithuania and Uzbekistan.