By AUDREY FISCHER
The Library of Congress was housed under a billowing tent at the National Book Festival, where visitors explored the institution’s past, present and future as well as their own.
Activities in the Library of Congress pavilion ranged from learning fun facts about the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution to accessing treasures from around the world on the World Digital Library website (www.wdl.org).
Library experts were on hand to connect visitors to their families’ histories through genealogical research tools, to show them how to preserve their family photos and to enable them to listen to voices from the past through folklife recordings.
Visitors could “Ask a Librarian” their reference questions, connect to Congress through a federal legislative information site known as THOMAS (thomas.loc.gov), learn how to copyright their creative works, participate in the Veterans History Project and get a glimpse of “a day at the Library.”
Visitors also could see how digital talking-book technology is being used by the Library of Congress to assist the visually impaired. And they could learn how digital technology is being used to preserve the past—in various formats—and make those resources accessible on the web.
Launched earlier this year, the Library's National Jukebox (www.loc.gov/jukebox/) makes early-20th-century historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. These and other sound recordings, films and radio and television broadcasts are housed at the Library’s Packard campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., which opened in 2007. For the first time in the festival’s history, staff members from the Packard Campus were on hand at the festival to highlight their collections and answer questions.
“Many people don’t know that the Library of Congress preserves recorded sound and moving images, and that we have a state-of-the-art facility where we do this work,” said Gene DeAnna, head of the Recorded Sound Section.