By ERIN ALLEN
The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoring Paul Simon (see Information Bulletin, June 2007) continued to receive media coverage following the June 27 PBS broadcast of the May 23 gala concert. Aired in high definition, the broadcast featured highlights of the concert, including performances by James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Marc Anthony, Alison Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Art Garfunkel and Simon himself.
Of the concert, Edna Gundersen of USA Today said, "If a link between 'Graceland' and 'Summertime' isn't immediately clear, the Gershwin connection emerges in the diversity and durability of songs in the 90-minute gala, taped last month in Washington, D.C."
In an accompanying story, Gundersen spoke with Simon about his music and the award. He noted that a recent visit to the Library of Congress—where every U.S. copyrighted song is stored—helped him gain perspective on the meaning of the award. Along with Mozart manuscripts and compositions by the Gershwins, Simon saw the 1956 registration for "The Girl for Me," copyrighted by him and his creative partner Art Garfunkel.
"I saw my father's handwriting on the lead sheet," he said. "It was the first song I wrote with Artie when we were 12 or 13."
On June 28, PBS aired an interview with Simon on The Charlie Rose Show, which began by acknowledging the songwriter as the first recipient of the Gershwin Prize.
"It's [the Gershwin Prize] a way of looking at popular song through the value system of the Gershwins," explained Simon. "So, it implies a multicultural understanding, a harmonic adventurism, sophisticated lyrics. It's a certain way of defining high art and popular art as combined that was uniquely the Gershwins.' So that's what the award means. What it means as it applies to me, that's up to you."
Other outlets that carried news of the PBS broadcast were the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.; UPI; the Chattanooga Times Free Press; the Cincinnati Post; and Web sites courant.com (site for the Hartford [Maine] Courant); news-leader.com (site for the [Missouri] News-Leader); presstelegram.com (site for the [California] Press-Telegram); TennesseTicket.com; and themoneytimes.com.
Also recognized for his contribution to society was Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. In anticipation of his 20th anniversary at the helm of the institution, several outlets featured stories about him and his tenure.
William Powers of National Journal published an interview with Billington as "the first of an occasional series of conversations with leading figures in government, politics and other spheres." Powers asked Billington what he reads, what he listens to as he drives to work, and whether he ever visits YouTube or owns an iPod. (Billington answered "no" to the latter two questions.)
"This job I have now is to make sure people read," Billington said. "That's why I'm least dependent, of all media, on television. I'm basically a book and print man."
In 2004, Billington was honored as one of Edutopia magazine's "Daring Dozen."
Reporter Sara Bernard recently followed up with Billington, whom she referred to as a "cybrarian" for his continued efforts to make knowledge readily available to the public and classrooms through the Library's digital initiatives.
Bernard wrote, "From digitizing perishable materials to creating Digital Talking Books for the blind, he and others at the LOC are well aware of the opportunities technology offers education." She quoted Billington as saying, "If we take steps now to collect, preserve and make accessible this knowledge, we will leave to our descendants an invaluable legacy."
The June/July issue of American Libraries magazine presented a retrospective of the six Librarians of Congress appointed during the past century. They include Herbert Putnam (1899–1939), the first person to hold the position and the one with the longest tenure; Archibald MacLeish (1939–1944), who served during World War II; Luther Evans (1945–1953), who held the office during the McCarthy era; L. Quincy Mumford (1954–1974), the only Librarian of Congress to hold a degree in librarianship; Daniel Boorstin (1975–1987), a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who founded the Center for the Book; and Billington (1987–present).
Authors Suzanne E. Thorin and Robert Wedgeworth write, "It is not in their length of service, however, but in their remarkable contributions, unrealized goals and unintended legacies that the changes in the role of the Librarian of Congress and the Library itself are revealed…. Billington's legacy promises to be an exceptional one [thanks to his vision of sharing the Library's collections with the public through the Internet].… His achievements have occurred during massive changes in the national culture catalyzed by technological innovations, particularly the development of the Web."
Taped before a live audience during the American Library Association annual conference in June, an interview with Billington by C-SPAN's Brian Lamb aired on July 1.
On July 3, Good Morning America commemorated the upcoming Independence Day with a story on America's revolutionary history. In a segment taped in the Great Hall, Billington offered a rare glimpse of Library treasures, including Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence (200 copies of the Declaration of Independence were printed on the night of July 4, 1776, by John Dunlap of Philadelphia.
The announcement of the 2007 National Book Festival, to be held on Sept. 29, began making waves in the news. This year's festival will feature authors such as Carmen Agra Deedy, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Raichlen, David Baldacci, David Wiesner and David McCullough, among others. Outlets running advance stories included the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cox News Service, The Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star, Austin American-Statesmen and Web sites about.com, managinginformation.com, washington.org, forbes.com, americanroadmagazine.com and adventuresineducation.org.