“The availability of primary sources from the Library of Congress is amazing. I cannot wait to share them with my fellow teachers and students.”
So said a participant in one of a series of teacher institutes sponsored by the Library of Congress in conjunction with its bicentennial Abraham Lincoln exhibition, “With Malice Toward None.”
A cooperative endeavor between the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Interpretive Programs Office, the program invited educators from across the country to learn about Abraham Lincoln through the Library’s primary and web-based materials.
With the online version of the Lincoln exhibition as its foundation (www.loc.gov/lincoln/), the program provided participants with strategies and materials to bring back to their schools. Participants learned how to incorporate images, manuscripts, letters, photographs, maps and poetry into the Civil War-era curriculum in ways that will make history come alive for students.
Nearly 100 teachers from more than 10 states and the District of Columbia participated in six one-day institutes. Twenty educators from 10 states participated in one of several three-day institutes that extended to the Library’s other online resources. One of the in-depth institutes coincided with the Lincoln symposium (see story on page 41), allowing participating educators to meet with Lincoln scholars. Plans are underway to offer six educational institutes in Sacramento and other cities to which the Lincoln exhibition will travel.
“This is such a fabulous resource for all students,” said one participating educator about the Library’s online resources, “It can only serve to make them better citizens with insight into our history and a desire to preserve our heritage.” Another participant felt “re-energized and excited to go back to school on Monday.”
The Library’s Educational Outreach Division, a unit of the Office of Strategic Initiatives, is responsible for directing and developing the institution’s efforts to make its resources available and useful to the nation’s K-12 educators. (See Information Bulletin, October 2006.)
Since 2001 the Educational Outreach office has collaborated with the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office to create teacher institutes that focus on the Library’s online exhibitions (www.loc.gov/exhibits/).
The Library’s current educational outreach efforts have their roots in the National Digital Library program (NDL), which was launched by the Librarian of Congress in the early 1990s. Since its beginnings, one of the primary goals of the NDL Program has been to make the Library’s primary-source materials available and useful to K-12 students and teachers.
This has been accomplished in a variety of ways, beginning with the 1996 launch of the Learning Page, an educational-outreach resource. This was followed by the launch in 2000 of www.americaslibrary.gov, the Library’s website for children and families.
It has also been accomplished through a series of teacher-education opportunities, beginning with the American Memory Fellows program, which brought 250 master teachers and school library media specialists to the Library from 1997 to 2001. These educators participated in intensive weeklong institutes, working with experts to develop lesson plans based on the Library’s digital collections.
This network of American Memory Fellows continues to spread the word about the Library’s educational materials among colleagues and in professional-development activities. Building on the success of the Fellows program, Congress created An Adventure of the American Mind (AAM), a program that began piloting similar networking projects in 2000, eventually reaching eight states.
In September 2006, the Library took the AAM model one step further by launching the Teaching with Primary Sources program. TPS is a multistate consortium of universities and other educational organizations that offer workshops on “best practices” for using primary sources in the classroom. Last year, more than 4,700 teachers nationwide attended one of more than 430 TPS workshops.