Library Of Congress

Librarian of Congress has no Plans to Retire

How many government employees in Washington have been there since the Reagan years? Not too many, but one of them is James Billington, Librarian of Congress.

He moves a little more slowly now, at 82, and gets more questions about whether he’s thinking of retiring, but that seems to be the last thing on James Billington’s mind as he begins his 25th year as the Librarian of Congress (however, he is not credentialed as a librarian).

“I have no plans at this point — sorry to disappoint you,” a reflective Billington said during an hourlong interview with The Hill. “The Lord’s been very kind, and I’m in the middle of a lot of interesting things. And of course, it’s a time when all cultural institutions are facing lots of challenges.”

Billington, who was sworn in as the 13th Librarian of Congress on Sept. 14, 1987, outlined some of those challenges when asked about the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, given that the Library was the first to publish Osama bin Laden’s autobiography and the first to discover papers that raised concerns about terrorists hijacking airliners.

“Speaking as an American, like all other Americans I share in the horror and outrage and the deep concern and expressions of sympathy, and in the way in which the country was suddenly conscious of fragility when we all thought we were secure,” he said.

Earthquake Shakes Up the East Coast

Did you feel it? Any books fall off the shelves? A 5.9-Magnitude (corrected to 5.8) earthquake struck the Eastern US shortly before 2:00 pm EST, centered in Virginia, but it was felt from the Carolinas to Toronto. Lots of libraries and other buildings were evacuated (some on Wall Street in NYC); here's a story from Spartanburg County, SC:

Spartanburg County Emergency Management Coordinator Doug Bryson was attending a state emergency managers’ meeting in Columbia discussing Hurricane Irene when the room began shaking. “It was a weird feeling,” Bryson said. “The floor and chairs were all shaking. Apparently, it’s affected the whole East Coast.” Bryson said he began getting calls about the quake but had not heard of any damage so far in Spartanburg County. The quake shook the shelves at the Spartanburg County Headquarters Library, which was briefly evacuated.

More reports from Patchogue NY, the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA, and the Nation's Capital, where the Library of Congress was evacuated.

Naked Man Rescued from Missouri River Wanted to Float to Library of Congress

Naked Man Rescued from Missouri River Wanted to Float to Library of Congress
Firefighters rescued a naked man from the Missouri River on Thursday morning. Crews were alerted after his friend called police. Police said the man wanted to float down the river to the "Library of Congress."

DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME THIS ISN'T A LIBRARY RELATED STORY!

Library of Congress unveils National Jukebox to stream free music

For the first time, the Library of Congress is streaming some of its vast collection of sound recordings of popular music, speeches and comedy online for free.

Full story

National Jukebox at LOC here.

Glenna Hall, CIA Librarian

By Glenna Hall, guest contributor to The Atlantic:

When Jim (James Fallows, regular columnist on temporary book leave) asked us to send him some biographical information, I mentioned that during my five-year stint at the U.S. Library of Congress, I had worked for several obscure non-library-service outfits, one of which was funded by the CIA. At that time, in the late '60s and early '70s, there were numerous peculiar units stuck around LOC -- in basements, in the stacks, in odd corners. For almost a year, another group I worked for was tucked away beneath the gorgeous ceiling of the Great Hall during a major overhaul of the Reading Room. Why was all this stuff located there? Well, that's where the books were.

My second job at LOC was with a group called the International Organizations Section. When I first arrived, I was struck by how many of the employees spoke English as a second language or were fluent in a number of languages. My immediate supervisor spoke and read Greek; one of my eventual friends was a Czech who also spoke Polish (he taught me how to pronounce "Zbigniew Brzezinski"). There were upward of a dozen desks, arranged in a block. The real feature of the big room, though, was a huge tub file filled with index cards and card dividers.

Small Fire Extinguished at Library of Congress

Washington Post : The Madison Building at the Library of Congress in Washington has reopened Friday after being briefly evacuated because of a small electrical fire in the basement.

The fire broke out in the morning and was contained to a basement. D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says the fire stemmed from an electrical problem involving a generator, but the exact cause has yet to be determined.

U.S. Capitol Police say there were no injuries and no immediate reports of damages. The building on Independence Avenue was evacuated and neighboring streets were shut down.

Additional details from The Hill.

The Hawk Has Left The Building

The elusive "LOC Nest Monster", a Cooper hawk that had been roosting in the rotunda of the Library of Congress' Main Reading Room for the last week, has met her match. The hawk that has been avoiding capture inside the LOC was finally corralled Wednesday morning by bird experts. Report from NBC Washington. Click READ MORE for video. And more from NPR on how the capture went down.

Hawk Trapped in Library of Congress

Bird experts struggle to free a hawk from the dome of the main reading room. The hawk, nicknamed "Shirley" by staff members, has been trapped in the Library of Congress since Wednesday. (The bird has been recently fed and is in no immediate danger.)

Full story here.
Additional hawk updates from the LOC Blog.

Library of Congress Blocks Wikileaks

From The Guardian:

The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place.

Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected.

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.)

Pages

Subscribe to Library Of Congress