Panoramic city maps from the late 1800s, federal period wallcoverings, and jewelry inspired by the Library's Great Hall are just a few of the LC products introduced in September as part of an initiative to bring the riches of the Library and its collections to the public.
"This pilot program is designed to spread the word about what the Library has in its extensive collections and to gain some added funds to support those collections," said Chief of Staff Suzanne Thorin.
Through the new LC Pilot Consumer Product Development Program, the Library can license consumer (as opposed to bibliographic) products. LC works with companies to develop, market and distribute various types of products using the institution's name. The first products on the market this fall were 14 items in a four-page "Library of Congress" insert in the "Wireless" and "Signals" catalogs. Jewelry, maps, a toy block and a T-shirt are among the products. Accompanying each product is a brief description of the collection that inspired it.
The parent company of the "Wireless" and "Signals" catalogs, Rivertown Trading Co., is a medium-sized national marketer to supporters of public radio and television. Rivertown has sent test mailings of the Library inserts to about 8.5 million people.
Once responses are compiled, the company will know more about the types of products customers want, according to Pat Gray, a program specialist in the Library's Cataloging Distribution Service. Ms. Gray has been working in the Librarian's Office during the project's startup phase.
Another type of product was unveiled Sept. 22 at the Washington Design Center by F. Schumacher & Co. A line of historical wallpapers, faithfully reproduced from the originals, was presented for preview by the press and the interior design trade.
Another product, a Faberge egg with design motifs inspired by Thomas Jefferson and the Library building named for him, was introduced Sept. 15 to the Brielle Galleries' list of art collectors. This limited edition collectible was designed by Theo Faberge, grandson of Carl Faberge, jeweler to the czars. Plans are for one fine collectible to be developed each year for a 10-year "Consciousness of America" series.
"Letting people know about the Library of Congress through nationwide quality marketing channels is one of the program's goals," Ms. Gray said.
The idea for the Pilot Consumer Product Development Program was developed more than two years ago when the Madison Council, LC's private sector support group, began to explore ways to augment the Library's outreach and fundraising efforts. In March 1993, Madison Council member Donald G. Jones of Fond du Lac, Wis., established the Millennium Foundation Inc. to serve as a nonprofit booster organization for the Library.
The Millennium Foundation will assist the Library in areas such as consumer product licensing and development, media product development, fundraising events and the development of a large "Friends" organization to provide broad marketplace support for the Library and to increase public knowledge and greater awareness of the institution, its mission and its programs.
When someone purchases one of these products, royalties will go to the foundation, which in turn will donate funds to the Library, a portion of which will go into gift and revolving funds in the divisions housing the original materials. The LC Sales Shop has the option of carrying items developed by these companies at cost. Some products, however, such as the Schumacher wallpaper, are sold to a nonretail market such as interior decorators, Ms. Gray said.
When the program began, Ted Spiegel, one of the country's top marketing experts, was engaged to determine whether LC products could be developed by companies that would bear not only the costs of production but also marketing and distribution of the products. Now an associate professor and director of the Direct Marketing Program, Integrated Marketing Communications, at Northwestern University, Mr. Spiegel is also a consultant. As such, he has been successful in finding companies interested in working with the Library and its collections; about 15 companies have expressed interest.
The new pilot program is Library-wide and will draw from many collections. "Staff have had wonderful suggestions and ideas," Ms. Gray said. "For instance, Ford Peatross knew for a long time that if the Library ever had a product development initiative, the wallpapers would be a natural for it. Product potential is everywhere. The special collections have many beautiful items, but exciting materials are also found in the general book collections, in Local History and Genealogy, the American Folklife Center, Science and Technology, Serial and Government Publications, the Law Library, as well as in the African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Hispanic and Russian areas," she added.
Staff members who offer ideas are often motivated by wanting to share the collections through products people can purchase for their homes or offices, Ms. Gray said. "The audience we reach is different from that of the Library user who wants to study original materials. This audience wants reproductions or other products they can keep, either as a reminder of their national library or as a way to enhance and enjoy their own surroundings, to integrate a bit of the past into the present."
This group of constituents is also different from those patronizing the LC Retail Shop, Ms. Gray said. Since the pilot program is a nationwide effort, it can create a broad-based interest in the Library as an institution to support.
Proposals for the items developed are presented by companies through Ted Spiegel to the Library's Product Review Committee. This committee decides whether to proceed with each product, using guidelines approved by the congressional Joint Committee on the Library. The LC review committee is chaired by Suzanne Thorin, and committee members are Deanna Marcum of Collections Services; John Y. Cole of Cultural Affairs; and Laura Campbell ofConstituent Services. Before products reach the market, the committee reviews designs, mock-ups, or samples.
"This program gives us one way to make materials available to a much broader public than we could possibly serve here at the Library," Dr. Marcum said.