By ERIN ALLEN
The Library took to the road in September with a new traveling exhibition, “Gateway to Knowledge,” housed in a specially designed 18-wheel truck. The rolling exhibition of Library treasures is expected to visit up to 60 sites in states across the Midwest and South over the next year. By Thanksgiving, the truck had been from D.C. to Wisconsin. At each stop along the route, local newspapers and broadcast stations marked its arrival.
Following the exhibition’s appearance at the National Book Festival on Sept. 25, Roll Call reporter Jessica Estepa spoke with Abigail Van Gelder, one of two docents accompanying the traveling exhibition. By that time, the truck had already traveled nearly 1,000 miles and made stops in Winchester, Va., Cumberland, Md., and Charleston, W.Va.
“It’s nice to share [the Library] with other people,” said Van Gelder. “I’ve seen so much enthusiasm so far. I can only imagine what the next several months will bring.”
More than 700 students viewed the display on its opening day in Fond du Lac, Wis., according to Fox affiliate WLUK-TV. “I think it’s a good opportunity to open their eyes and see the education they can grasp in one turn around the nice huge trailer like this,” said resident Lisa Swanson.
“You can’t help but learn something here. They’ve done a great job of delineating all the things they have available at the Library. It’s pretty comprehensive,” John Silah told the Fond du Lac Reporter.
“It was really cool,” said Brenden Hoehn, a student from Mankato East Junior High in Minnesota. “Just being in [the traveling exhibition] made me want to see the real thing,” he told the Mankato Free Press.
Emma Burger, a freshman at Ohio’s Marietta College, attended the exhibition with her honors literature class. “History has always been interesting to me, and it’s good to see so many primary documents. I was really excited to come,” she told the News and Sentinel. Her professor, Bev Hogue, said some of the displays fit well into lessons from the class.
While facsimiles of Library treasures traveled around the country, lost American silent films made their way to the nation’s library in Washington, D.C., after an extended stay in Russia. The films were a gift to the Library of Congress from Gosfilmofond, the Russian state film archive.
“A study published by the Library of Congress in 1993 concluded that the majority of U.S. movies from the 1920s survive only in foreign film archives,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington told CNN. “In the days of early American movie-making, many studios and theaters simply threw old movies away. Russia didn’t generally throw them away.”
Also running stories about the films were Daily Variety, the Los Angeles Times, Federal News Radio, Kansas City InfoZine, the Chicago Sun-Times, Naples News (Florida) and The Star-Exponent (Virginia).
Also returning to the Library was baritone Thomas Hampson, who received a Living Legend medal during his concert at the Library in October. He was the 101st recipient of the award.
“Thomas Hampson, the celebrated baritone of the opera stage and recital hall, enraptured a capacity audience at the Library of Congress on Thursday with examples from his Song of America Project,” wrote Washington Post reviewer Cecelia Porter. “Hampson’s project has led him to delve deeply into the Library’s vast collections of American songs. And his recitals have put them on the map—some for the first time—in 22 states across the nation since 2006.”
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the Library’s Office of Communications.