Library Of Congress

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Escaping the Summer Heat in a Bookmobile

A recent study found that making books available to low-income children had a significant impact on preventing the reading gap.

On NPR this morning, W. Ralph Eubanks reminisces about visiting the bookmobile as a child. He is the author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi's Dark Past and Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress.

"When I feel the summer heat steaming from the pavement, my childhood memories of the bookmobile provide a cooling sensation to my spirit. This feeling came back last summer on a visit to Chicago when I happened upon a parade of bookmobiles of various ages. There it was: an old Ford grille with big, round headlights that was a dead ringer for the bookmobile that stopped at my house as a child. "

More from NPR.

LOC and Partners Preserving the Internet

This week in Washington, DC, the Library of Congress is gathering its "Digital Preservation Partners" for a three-day session -- one of a number of such meetings the library has been holding under a broad initiative called the "National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program." Its multi-year mission is "to develop a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations."

It's what Dan Gillmor of Salon calls a non-trivial task, for all kinds of technical, social and legal reasons. But it's about as important for our future as anything I can imagine. We are creating vast amounts of information, and a lot of it is not just worth preserving but downright essential to save. Gillmor's role this week, and at a workshop he joined last year, is to be thinking about the news.

LOC as Concert Hall and Sir Paul McCartney as Headliner

Paul McCartney confessed he was "slightly nervous" in the leadup to Wednesday's big concert at the White House, where President Barack Obama was presenting McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

An all-star cast lined up to perform at the East Room tribute concert, including the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Stevie Wonder and Jerry Seinfeld. Also to appear: Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, White Stripes singer and guitarist Jack White and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. McCartney himself was to perform as well.

McCartney, 67, is the third recipient of the Gershwin prize, awarded by the Library of Congress. It is named for the songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin, whose collections are housed at the library. Previous recipients of the Gershwin award are Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.

McCartney played a private concert at the library on Tuesday, and said he'd grown up listening to music by the Gershwin brothers. Librarian of Congress James Billington credited McCartney for "symbolizing and humanizing the global soundscape," with his music and his activism around the world.

Those not lucky enough to snag tickets to the East Room gig can catch the concert July 28th, when it's televised on PBS' "In Performance at the White House." AP story.

Every. Single. Tweet. Now on the LOC Blog

Ars Technica reports: The Library of Congress is archiving for posterity every public tweet made since the service went live back in 2006. Every. Single. Tweet.

The LOC announced the news, appropriately enough, on Twitter. Twitter isn't just about being pretentious and notifying the world about the contents of your lunch (though it's about those things too).

Matt Raymond, one the Library's official bloggers, notes that "important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election, and a set of two tweets from a photojournalist who was arrested in Egypt and then freed because of a series of events set into motion by his use of Twitter."

But even those billions of other tweets and retweets, the ones about how you just got back from the worlds' most epic jog or how you're sick at home with the crocodile flu or how your crappy Internet connection just went down again and you can't take it any more—those matter too.

Try the blog (it was down when I tried); the LOC says on Twitter:
" Sorry, LOC blog having some disruptions. Twitter acquisition story also on Facebook" about 1 hour ago via web.

The New York Times weighs in on Twitter on LOC.

Library of Congress Sued for Former Employees Firing

The ACLU has sued the Library of Congress for firing a former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions.

Col. Morris Davis (now retired from the military) was fired for criticizing the system in which detainees at Guantanamo are tried while being employed by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, where he worked as an assistant director in the foreign affairs, defense and trade division.

The Library of Congress, which oversees CRS, said Davis had shown poor judgment and that his criticism “could do serious harm to the trust and confidence Congress reposes in CRS,” according to a letter sent to Davis in November by Daniel Mulhollan, the director of the CRS.

The LOC cited rules that require employees to explicitly disassociate themselves from the LOC when writing or speaking about controversial topics. The letter singled out criticism Davis expressed in two op-eds written in November; here's Davis's Wall Street Journal op-ed and his Washington Post letter to the Editor.

Story from The Hill.

Paul McCartney to be honoured by US Library of Congress

Paul McCartney is to be awarded the Gershwin Prize For Popular Music in Washington in spring 2010.

The former Beatle will be the third musician – and the first non-American – to receive the prize, which is awarded by the US Library Of Congress. Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon were the previous recipients, with the former's award being presented to him by US President Barack Obama in February 2009.

Full story

The Library of Congress Makes Room for Kids

Seattle PI: On October 23 the Library of Congress will unveil the The Young Readers Center. It will be the first area devoted exclusively to children in the library's 200+ year history.

The Center, which is housed in a renovated recording studio, will open with about 800 books. Most will be donated by publishers or culled from the library's duplicate and exchange department.

Full story

US Library of Congress' Digital Collection One of World's Largest

VOA News: The U.S. Library of Congress is well known for being the world's largest library. That is, in the traditional, paper format. Now, the library is on the way to hosting the largest digital collection in the world with more than 700 terabytes of data.

Full article

Next Saturday -- National Mall -- Be There or Be Square

For the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Right now, here and there all over the world, people are sitting down with a good book and enjoying a good read. Sprawled on the lawn, curled up on the sofa, sitting on the steps in the piazza — they’re communing with a great author, or a funny author, or an author who’s telling them how to cook or knit or fix something in their life that’s broke.

Saturday, more than 120,000 of them are projected to be on one lawn, in one city, at one time: on the National Mall at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. It’ll happen from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., rain or shine — free of charge. Authors will also sign books for their fans.

The Library of Congress will showcase its Library of Congress Experience and social-networking activities, including this blog, its Flickr page and its Facebook page. The whole thing will be on Twitter (@librarycongress, hashtag #nbf). Also, our website for the book festival is a great place to plan for this feast, complete with fresh podcasts from more than a dozen of this year’s authors. There’s a Young Readers’ Toolkit there, too. And the day of the book festival, webcasts of many of the author presentations will be available on the festival website.

No mention this year of the former First Lady.

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