On Oct. 6 Dr. Billington laid out preliminary plans for commemoration of the Library's 200th birthday on April 24, 2000.
The Librarian spoke to members of the media in his ceremonial office in the Jefferson Building. "The main thing we want to celebrate during LC's bicentennial is the creative use of knowledge in libraries everywhere. We take pride in our function as a library and take pride in the 'enrichment process' that builds upon the work we do in gathering, cataloging and preserving collections.
"But this bicentennial occasion is not to be a self-congratulatory institutional one. In developing our preliminary plans, we have consulted with Congress, the library community, the White House Millennium Project and the Madison Council," the Library's private sector support group, Dr. Billington said. "We want this anniversary to revalidate the historical role of libraries as centers of learning and to reinvigorate the nation through the greater use of libraries and wider access to knowledge."
The Madison Council has pledged $750,000 as seed money to fund bicentennial projects. A Madison Council gala the following evening (see story this issue), also raised funds for the project.
Carol Henderson, director of the Washington Office of the American Library Association, said, "One of the most striking things is that LC is reaching out with late-20th and 21st century technology to link up with other libraries using the same technology. The wonderful ideas reflected in the plans for the bicentennial reflect the great energy generated between the local libraries and LC."
John Y. Cole, bicentennial project director and director of the Library's Center for the Book, said, "Libraries are important educational institutions and a natural link between learning and liberty; this is their celebration too."
Four core projects are in the works, Mr. Cole said, around which local communities may build related events. They are:
Gifts to the Nation
"Gifts to the Nation" will be a reciprocal effort that will include significant acquisitions for LC's collections, as well as the commissioning of creative works and the expansion of the National Digital Library Program.
Frontiers of Knowledge
The "Frontiers of Knowledge" program, a series of lectures and symposia exploring ideas that shape lives, will begin with a June 1999 conference called "The Frontiers for the Mind in the 21st Century." Leading scholars will talk about significant developments during the past century and look ahead to challenges in the next. Young participants from every congressional district in the country will be invited to take part in the discussions.
"Local Legacies" will build upon local projects under way nationally in partnership with LC's American Folklife Center and the Center for the Book. These programs include "Montana Heritage," "Rivers of America," "Literary Maps of America" and "Building a Nation of Readers." The Library also wants to identify local historical collections to be linked with the Library's Web site.
Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will develop the "favorite poems" project, which will feature approximately 100 Americans from all walks of life choosing and reading aloud a favorite poem.
Several major publications and exhibitions also are planned, Mr. Cole said. Logos designed by Pentagram Inc. of New York and unveiled at the briefing are pictured here. Visit LC's bicentennial Web site.