James H. Billington has been The Librarian of Congress since September, 1987. A graduate of Princeton University, he attended Oxford University's Balliol College as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a doctorate in history. At Harvard University from 1957 to 1962, he taught history and was a research fellow at the Russian Research Center. He then moved to Princeton University, serving as Professor of History from 1964 to 1974. From 1973 to 1987, he was Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he founded the Wilson Quarterly in 1976.

A specialist in Russian history, Dr. Billington is author of Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism (1956), The Icon and the Axe (1966), Fire in the Minds of Men, (1980) and Russia Transformed: Breakthrough to Hope, August 1991 (1992). He is also the author of The Face of Russia (1998), a companion book to the television series, The Face of Russia, which he wrote and narrated for Public Broadcasting Stations in June 1998. He has accompanied a number of Congressional delegations as well as a library and a church delegation to the Soviet Union, and in June 1989 accompanied President and Mrs. Reagan to the Summit in Moscow.

He has been a visiting lecturer or research professor at many universities in the United States and other countries and has received 21 honorary degrees. He was a longtime member of the editorial advisory boards of Foreign Affairs and of Theology Today, and of the Board of Foreign Scholarships, which has executive responsibility for worldwide academic exchanges. He is on the Board of the Center for Theological Inquiry and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.