The Bicentennial of the Library of Congress will be celebrated with a series of events that draw on the unparalleled collections and expert staff of the world's largest library. From concerts and exhibitions to symposia and online presentations, the Library's Bicentennial activities will be accessible to Americans everywhere. Following is a calendar of events, as of press time. For the most up-to-date calendar, visit the Bicentennial Web site.
October 1999 - May 2002
"I Hear America Singing"
Whether in Washington or on the Web, visitors can enjoy a three-year series of free concerts with "I Hear America Singing." Taking its title from a Walt Whitman poem, the series encompasses both classical and popular compositions, exploring the range, diversity and originality of American music.
Concerts for the 1999-2000 season began Oct. 1 with Bobby Short and His Orchestra and will close with a Stephen Sondheim Salute on his 70th birthday. The season includes a rich array that includes a celebration of the centennial of the birth of one of the nation's finest composers, Aaron Copland, in a special program on Nov. 18, 2000, and concerts by the Juilliard String Quartet and the Martha Graham Dance Company.
"I Hear America Singing" will look back to our heritage of popular song and our roles as listeners as well as performers -- in schools and parades, at worship and social gatherings. Information about the concert series is available online. For recorded information, call the concert line, (202) 707-5502.
Nov. 17, 1999 - March 4, 2000
"John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations"
In "John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations," treasures rarely seen by the public from the two largest libraries in the English-speaking world will be brought together in an unprecedented exhibition. Visitors will learn how U.S.-British relations evolved from Colonial times and the American Revolution through the 18th and 19th centuries, over the course of two World Wars to the present.
Americans like to think baseball was invented in the 19th century in Cooperstown, N.Y., but a British children's book called A Little Pretty Pocket-Book described the game a century earlier, bases and all. The book will be on view along with Charles Dickens's walking stick, a handwritten Beatles score, and a copy of the "Star Spangled Banner," written in Francis Scott Key's own hand to the tune of an 18th century English drinking song, "To Anecreon in Heaven."
On view Nov. 17 through March 4, 2000, "John Bull and Uncle Sam" will be mounted in the Northwest Gallery and Pavilion of the 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday -Saturday; it will also be available online. For information, call (202) 707-4604.
March 6-10, 2000
"Democracy and the Rule of Law in a Changing World Order"
Upheavals, wars and revolutions have altered the so-called world order, but for more than two centuries, democracy in the United States has remained steadfast. "Democracy and the Rule of Law in a Changing World Order," a weeklong symposium with sessions at the Library and New York University, will explore how the relationship between law and democracy has fostered the spread of freedom and human rights across the globe.
Participants, including Supreme Court justices and other distinguished jurists, will look at how countries with differing legal traditions confront major common problems. How does the law affect the economy, the environment, international sovereignty and justice? Are "human rights" universal? What is the relationship between religion and the state? How do culture and religion affect the making and enforcement of the law?
April 3-4, 2000
"Poetry in America: Reading, Performance and Publication in the 19th and 20th Centuries"
Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky launched his Favorite Poem Project in 1997 with President and Mrs. Clinton reading their favorite poems at the White House. During the "Poetry in America" symposium, he will present to the Library of Congress tapes made during the last two years of Americans from all walks of life reading their favorite poems. The archives will reside permanently at the Library as one of its Bicentennial "Gifts to the Nation." Says Mr. Pinsky: "These audio and video tapes will be a permanent record, at the end of the century, of what we Americans choose, and what we do with our voices and faces, when asked to say aloud a poem that we love."
Mr. Pinsky, the first Poet Laureate to serve three consecutive terms, will be joined in this two-day poetry reading and symposium by three Pulitzer Prize-winning poets, Rita Dove, Louise Glück and W.S. Merwin, who have been named Special Consultants in Poetry for the Bicentennial.
April 24 - Oct. 31, 2000
"Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty"
The nation's third president was a Renaissance man whose library formed the core of the Library of Congress. In this Bicentennial exhibition, visitors will see the only surviving fragment of his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, his instructions to the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, his letter to his friend James Madison on the need for continuing revolution and Jefferson's epitaph.
The display will also include a recreation of Jefferson's library, two-thirds of which burned in an 1851 fire in the Capitol, where the Library was housed. Many of these volumes have since been replaced. A worldwide search is under way for the remaining 700 volumes needed to reconstitute the original collection of 6,487. Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys football team, and his wife, Gene, have given the Library $1 million to purchase the volumes once they are located.
"Genius of Liberty" draws on the Library's unparalleled presidential materials. It will trace the origins and evolution of Jefferson's thinking and examine his influence on the nation and our concept of liberty. The exhibition will also be online at the Library's Web site. The exhibition information line is (202) 707-4604.
April 24 - Sept. 23, 2000
"The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale"
The yellow brick road will end in Washington when the Library presents "The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale," an exhibition devoted entirely to this timeless tale. For an entire century, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has enchanted children young and old. The exhibition will mark the centennial of the book's publication, which was registered for copyright at the Library in 1900.
Because of its role as the nation's Copyright Office, the Library contains many rare or unique items related to The Wizard of Oz in its collections. Among them are Baum's original handwritten copyright application, a first edition of the book, copies of the 13 other books that Baum later wrote about the land of Oz, pop-up books showing the Oz characters, posters for stage and film adaptations, as well as materials relating to the enormously popular 1939 film with Judy Garland. The exhibition will also feature costumes, film props and other memorabilia, from classic to camp.
Visitors to the exhibition in Washington and to the Library's Web site will see how this story changed and endured and why it continues to delight new generations of Americans. For information, call (202) 707-4604.
April 24, 2000
The Library of Congress's 200th Birthday
On April 24, the Library's 200th birthday, a birthday block party, open to the public, will include well-known invited performing artists and "Living Legends," whose creativity is represented in the Library's vast collections.
The U.S. Postal Service will issue a commemorative stamp at the Library. On April 25, 2000, through the end of May, libraries across the United States will hold second-day issue events where patrons can have the Library of Congress commemorative stamp marked with a special cancellation.
The U.S. Mint will issue commemorative coins. Plans include the issuance of the first bimetallic (gold and platinum) commemorative coin in U.S. history, making it highly collectible. The coin is one of only two commemoratives to be issued in 2000. Proceeds from the coins will allow Americans to support the educational goals of the Library.
The Bicentennial Time Capsule, "Reminding the Future," will be sealed. It will preserve a collection of items that capture the spirit of the Library of Congress in 2000. The artifacts will reflect the work, languages, activities, preoccupations and the milestones of daily life at the Library. They will be secured in the vault in the Librarian's Ceremonial Office. The capsule will remain sealed until April 24, 2100, the Library's tricentennial.
The Library Sales Shop will offer a custom-designed, limited edition, commemorative Lenox china bowl featuring an artist's rendering of the glorious Thomas Jefferson Building with gold embellishment modeled after architectural elements of one of the loveliest public buildings in America.
Throughout the year, local libraries nationwide are holding events celebrating the 200th birthday of the Library of Congress while at the same time drawing attention to the vital role public libraries play in their own communities.
May 23, 2000
A Celebration of America's "Local Legacies"
Americans everywhere have been documenting their unique local traditions and sending that documentation to the Library for inclusion in the collections of its American Folklife Center.
The Local Legacies projects, which were selected by members of Congress in every state and four territories -- American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- celebrate the nation's diversity as a source of its strength and vitality.
From zydeco music to decoy carving, rodeos to dogsled races, parades to food festivals, Local Legacies is reaching into every corner of the nation to document America's folk heritage.
Working with their members of Congress, Americans are participating in an unprecedented effort to document the cultural heritage of communities throughout the nation. The project is the keystone of the Bicentennial celebration. Documentation of Local Legacies is being achieved through the volunteer efforts of individuals, organizations and institutions.
On May 23, all participants and members of Congress will be invited to the Library of Congress to celebrate their cultural and historic contributions to the Bicentennial. Selections from the Local Legacies projects will be digitized and shared electronically over the Internet, where Americans for generations to come will be able to learn about their cultural heritage at the end of the century.
Oct. 23-27, 2000
"National Libraries of the World: Interpreting the Past and Shaping the Future"
The Library of Congress will host an international symposium, "National Libraries of the World: Interpreting the Past, Shaping the Future," on Oct. 23-27, 2000. Librarians from around the world will explore the influences that have shaped national libraries in the past and issues confronting them today and in the next century.
Oct. 30-31, 2000
"Guarding the Nation's Heritage: Preservation and Security"
Library preservation and security policymakers will consider future directions in their fields. Topics include establishing preservation and security standards, measuring effectiveness, establishing budgets and allocating funds for preservation and security, opportunities and barriers to cooperation, and challenges posed by the electronic information and digitization age.
National Digital Library Program's "Gift to the Nation"
The National Digital Library Program's "American Memory" project is the Library's premier Bicentennial Gift to the Nation. More than 6 million items will be online by the end of the year. This collection of items from the Library's incomparable American history collections tells America's story to students and lifelong learners everywhere.
The "American Memory" site has been listed among the top Web sites by Time magazine, Family PC Magazine and PC Week and has been called "remarkable" by The New York Times. Among the primary sources freely available are thousands upon thousands of materials relating to everyday life: photographs from the Civil War and Depression era, panoramic views of America's cities and towns, examples of popular culture (baseball cards, folk songs), manuscripts of American presidents, Thomas Edison's motion pictures, documents of the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, and the papers of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
This public-private initiative has been funded through the generosity of the U.S. Congress and private donors.
January 2001 (permanent)
"World Treasures of the Library of Congress"
The Library of Congress is more than America's library, it is a world library in the scope of its collections, gathered for two centuries from every corner of the globe.
The exhibition "World Treasures of the Library of Congress" will expand the focus of the Library's first permanent exhibition, "American Treasures," which features more than 270 items representing a cross section of the Library's vast repository of rare books, music, manuscripts, maps, photographs, drawings, audio clips and videotapes.
Items to be included in this popular exhibition are the 1478 Washington Haggadah, Sumerian cuneiform tablets from 2040 B.C., posters illustrated by Toulouse Lautrec and musical manuscripts by Beethoven, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
New Bicentennial Publications
America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000
The history of the world's largest library, the Library of Congress, and how it grew in the course of two centuries from a collection of a few hundred books to a treasure house of more than 115 million items in all media is the subject of America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000. This comprehensive, illustrated history, published by Yale University Press and written by James Conaway, author of eight books, will trace the Library of Congress from its "apartment" in the U.S. Capitol to its move to the architecturally spectacular 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building to its expansion to two additional buildings on Capitol Hill.
The Library's collections, comprising much more than books, include motion pictures, maps, legal documents, manuscripts, films, music, sound recordings, photographs, digital files and almost every other medium that records information.
As the size of the institution has grown, so too has its mission. Although its primary purpose is to serve the legislative research and reference needs of Congress, the Library has become the national library, serving as a major information resource for the nation. The book will be available April 24, 2000, in the Library's Sales Shops. It is expected to sell for about $50. Credit card orders may be placed by calling the Sales Shop, (202) 707-0204, or Yale University Press, (800) 987-7323.
The Nation's Library: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Today's Library of Congress -- its collections, buildings and services -- is the subject of the The Nation's Library: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. An artful combination of text, maps and color illustrations, the guidebook will also contain keys to conducting research -- in person or from afar -- at the world's largest research library. It will include information about the gloriously restored Thomas Jefferson Building.
The book, co-published by Scala Publishers, will be available in the spring in the Library Sales Shops and selected bookstores. The 144-page softcover guidebook will cost $16.95. Credit card orders may be placed with the Sales Shop at (202) 707-0204.
Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress continues to fulfill its mission: "to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations." How it has carried out this basic mission in the past is the subject of the Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, an illustrated one-volume work containing topical essays and approximately 150 shorter pieces that describe the Library's major collections.
The Encyclopedia will be an incomparable resource for readers interested in how the largest repository of knowledge ever assembled in the history of the world was shaped by its leaders, including the current Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, the 13th person to hold the position.
This hardcover book is expected to sell for about $60. The Encyclopedia may be ordered through the Library of Congress Sales Shop, (202) 707-0204.