By ERIN ALLEN
In April, the Library debuted its new “Experience” for visitors, bringing the institution’s collections to life through cutting-edge, hands-on technology. (See Information Bulletin, May 2008.) A number of media outlets focused their stories on two new exhibitions, “Creating the United States” and “Thomas Jefferson’s Library,” which opened in conjunction with the new Experience. (See stories on pages 95 and 103.)
Amy Orndorff of The Washington Post interviewed Mark Dimunation, chief of the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division and curator of the Thomas Jefferson’s Library exhibition. On display are more than 6,000 volumes—some originals and some replacements—arranged as they would have been nearly 200 years ago when Jefferson sold them to Congress.
“These are the books that made America,” said Dimunation, adding that re-creating such a famous library has been a dream although not a very easy task.
Orndorff also spoke with rare-book curator Daniel De Simone, whom Dimunation dispatched to Europe to track down copies of the tomes. He was particularly successful in France, where Jefferson had served the young American republic as ambassador, which endeared him to many French people to this day.
“They wanted to play, they wanted to participate,” said De Simone. “The Library of Congress is such an important institution in the rare book world … [and] Jefferson’s is one of those iconic collections.”
Orndorff’s story also appeared in the Boston Globe, the Seattle Times and the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Brett Zongker of the Associated Press featured both the Thomas Jefferson’s Library and Creating the United States exhibitions in an article that was syndicated in outlets such as the Canadian Press, the Examiner and Washington’s NBC4.com and wjla.com.
“The Declaration of Independence looked a bit different before Benjamin Franklin got his hands on it, using a pen to scratch out the words ‘sacred and undeniable,’” Zongker wrote. “Edits such as this are captured in a new exhibit that allows visitors to literally zoom in on specific words and phrases that formed the basis of the American republic.”
Gerry Gawalt, curator of “Creating the United States,” said, “It’s the first time a visitor to the exhibit can actually see the changes that were made. We stress the creativity, the compromise and the cooperation that was needed to work their way through these documents and get a successful product.”
Dale McFeatters of Scripps Howard News Service gave the Library a “well done” in his editorial on the new Thomas Jefferson’s Library exhibition. Sharing his sentiments were Mississippi Press, Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press, San Angelo (Tex.) Standard-Times and Knoxville News-Sentinel.
In May, the Library opened another exhibition, with a focus on its performing arts collections: “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: 50 Years as Cultural Ambassador to the World.” (See Information Bulletin, April 2008.) The exhibition features material from the Library’s Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Archive and selected items from the Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection, which the Library acquired in 2006. (See Information Bulletin, April 2006.) Included are examples of Ailey’s most notable creations, such as “Cry” and “Revelations.”
Judith Jamison, the group’s artistic director, told Playbill “All of our amazing history in the country’s most prestigious library! It’s hard to imagine.”
Also running announcements of the exhibition were Philadelphia Daily News, the Student Operated Press and artknowledgenews.com.
Digital technologies have radically transformed how copyrighted works are created and disseminated, and how libraries and archives preserve and make those works available. Section 108 of the Copyright Act in its current form provides limited exceptions for libraries and archives so that they may make copies to replace copyrighted works, but does not adequately address many of the issues unique to digital media. The Library convened an independent Section 108 Study Group in 2005, which issued its report on March 31, 2008. (See Information Bulletin, April 2008.)
Writing about the report, Andrew Albanese of Library Journal said, “While ambiguous, [the report] was hailed by some as a step forward. “The report offers one clear recommendation: the section 108 exception be extended to museums. Other recommendations include broad language that could be interpreted many ways by legislators.”
Emily Yehle of Roll Call observed, “Changing copyright law is always a struggle. Publishers and authors want to ensure they can sell their works, while libraries want to preserve it all and make it available to the public.”
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the Library’s Public Affairs Office.