Kellog Foundation grant gives
Library means to reach out to K-12 audiences
How the electronic Library evolved
Visitors' Center shows and tells of commitment to a Library for all
With that goal in mind, in May the National Digital Library Program awarded a $615,000 contract to the Center for Children and Technology (CCT), an educational consulting firm that is a division of the Education Development Center.
The Center for Children and Technology in New York City was founded in 1981. The mission of the CCT is to provide basic, applied, and formative research and technology development, with the goal of improving education.
According to Suzanne Thorin, the Library's Chief of Staff and coordinator for the National Digital Library Program, "The Library of Congress wants to make its primary source materials as useful to the K-12 community as possible by providing educators and students with electronic access to our unique Americana collections."
Requirements in the one-year contract, which can be extended an additional two years, include requiring CCT to survey the use of primary source materials in K-12 schools, review Library collections to determine which are best suited to meet K-12 requirements, assess the technology readiness of schools, and develop teaching materials for two of the Library's historical collections.
The Center for Children and Technology is driving the search for the youngest potential Superhighway beneficiaries of the Library's "high-quality cargo."
If the Library exercises the optional two years of the contract, CCT may develop and produce a CD-ROM of the Library's historical collections adapted to the needs of the K-12 educational community, design curriculum for training teachers on the use of primary source materials and examine the applicability of materials developed during the first year to introductory-level college coursework.
One of the first efforts of the Center for Children and Technology was to hold an Educators Forum, on July 27 and 28, to acquaint selected teachers with the project and to obtain their advice. Forum participants, who represented a variety of schools from around the nation, also received an initiation to the vast and unique primary resources of the Library.
Although the Library does not serve persons of high school age or below in its reading rooms, the contents of the National Digital Library Program are accessible electronically to students in elementary and high school Thus the Library "has a responsibility to make sure that these materials be used effectively by students of all ages," said Martha Dexter of the National Digital Library Program's educational services area.
The Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, opened the forum, telling participants, "Our success--and the country's success--will depend heavily on the ability of educators and librarians to make full use of the high-quality cargo the Library puts on the Information Superhighway. We want to know what kinds of collections are most useful to you and your students."
-- Guy Lamolinara
Public Affairs Office
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In 1965 the Council on Library Resources gave the Library a grant that led to the development of machine-readable cataloging. When users today tap into the Library's online catalog, available on the Internet, they are seeing the result of a project that began in the mid-1960s.
In 1975 another milestone in the Library's effort to make its records available electronically was reached when its first computer for public use was installed in the Science Reading Room. Two years later, the Online Catalog Center opened in the Main Reading Room.
Converting the Library's cataloging records to machine-readable form progressed so rapidly that in 1982, additions to the "manual" card catalog were suspended (thought it is still available), and the automated database became the official catalog of the Library.
In 1983 an optical disk project was started, in which the Library tested this technology to make magazine articles available. This same technology is now used to support the work of Congress through the Congressional Research Service.
When the current Librarian, James H. Billington, was sworn in on September 14, 1987, his vision of making the Library's riches "more broadly available to ever wider circles of our multiethnic society" propelled the institution further into the digital age.
High tech is nothing new for the Nation's Library and its librarians
Three years later, the Library launched American Memory, a pioneering effort that made limited collections of digitized versions of the Library's unique resources available to 44 schools, libraries and universities across the country. This five-year pilot made clear that students, researchers and the public would use digitized materials, if only they had access.
American Memory, which was distributed on CD-ROM and video disk, was principally supported by appropriations from Congress, with additional support from the private sector. Users were provided access to Civil War photographs, sound recordings of key American figures, African-American political pamphlets and photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company.
In 1992 the program to digitize treasures of the Library was extended to its major exhibitions. "Revelations from the Russian Archives" and "1492: An Ongoing Voyage" were made available electronically over computer networks, including the Internet. Today the Library has 10 of its exhibitions available on its World Wide Web server, including "Creating Culture: Treasures from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France," on view in the newly restored Great Hall September 1 through December 30, 1995.
1993 saw the availability of the Library of Congress Information System (LOCIS) on the Internet. LOCIS includes the Library's catalog, the status of legislation since 1973, copyright registration records since 1978 and lists of braille and audio materials for blind and physically handicapped persons.
That same year, LC MARVEL came online. MARVEL provides a wide variety of information about the Library, organized using a hierarchical menu system, called gopher, plus links to Internet resources worldwide (address: marvel.loc.gov).
On July 14, 1993, Dr. Billington and Vice President Albert Gore chaired the Library's first major conference on the Information Superhighway, "Delivering Electronic Information in a Knowledge-Based Democracy." Rep. Newt Gingrich, Sen. Bob Kerry and Rep. Edward Markey also addressed the participants.
Several prominent achievements were realized in 1994, including the debut of the Library's World Wide Web "homepage" (Uniform Resource Locator: http://www.loc.gov). LC Web enabled the Library to offer online text, images, sound and motion pictures from its unique Americana collections to the public. Six collections from the American Memory project are now available, including selected Civil War photographs; early motion pictures, 1897-1916; color photographs from the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, ca. 1938-1944; and the recently recovered notebooks from the Thomas Biggs Harned Walt Whitman Collection.
The National Digital Library Program got a significant boost when, in October 1994, Dr. Billington announced that the Library had received $13 million in private grants and gifts to digitize significant portions of the Americana collections. The announcement was made during the opening of the Digital Library Visitors' Center, where the Library demonstrates to Congress and the public its electronic initiatives (see Visitors' Center shows and tells...).
Also in 1994, the Library convened a conference on technological strategies for a National Digital Library with a wide range of distinguished information scientists.
Another milestone was reached on January 5, 1995, with the introduction of THOMAS, the Library's legislative information service, named in honor of Thomas Jefferson (Uniform Resource Locator: http://thomas.loc.gov). This bipartisan initiative of the 104th Congress is an online public access system offering legislative information, including the Congressional Record and the full text of bills of the previous and current Congress as well as links to the House and Senate databases. THOMAS has been so well received that nearly 1 million transactions are logged by the system monthly.
The Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, came to the Library on January 27 to address a meeting of 30 corporate leaders to discuss the public-private partnership required for the Library to reach its digitization goals. Rep. Gingrich urged Congress to allot $15 million over five years as "seed money," to be matched on a 3-to-1 basis by the private sector, for a total of $60 million by the year 2000.
With nearly $20 million in private sector funds raised for the National Digital Library Program, the Library is well on its way to reaching its goal--in collaboration with other major research institutions--of digitizing 5 million items by the year 2000.
Clearly Congress and the public find the Library's electronic initiatives useful: total transactions for all the Library's electronic services now average more than 20 million per month.
Public Affairs Office
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In the Orientation Theater, visitors can view a brief video that describes the Library's electronic services and their role in the emerging digital library community. In the Demonstration Theater, briefings are held describing LC's current and future electronic services. The large projection system in this theater can display a variety of services, including the World Wide Web feature of the Internet. Arranged around the perimeter of the space are hands-on workstations that allow staff and visitors to try the technology and services.
The accompanying list-only a sampling-demonstrates the strong interest in the Center's work. To get an appointment to visit the Center, telephone 202/707-4157.
U.S. Government Agencies
International and Foreign Delegations/Visitors
Japan Atomic Energy Research
Embassy of South Africa
Danish Royal Library
German National Library
Institute for International Studies
National Library of Lithuania
National Library of Scotland
National Library of Taiwan
International Congress of Medical Librarians
National Endowment for the Humanities-Summer Fellows
University of North Carolina Library School
American Association of Retired Persons
American Bar Association
American Rhodes Scholarship Board Members
Association of American Publishers
Information Industry Association
National Museum of American History
The New Yorker
Voice of America
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Return to the Periodic Report from the National Digital Library Program Home Page
Visit Digitized Historical Collections via American Memory
Go to the Library of Congress Home Page