Press contact: Jennifer Gavin (202) 707-1940
See the full conference program.

June 5, 2012 (REVISED June 19, 2012)

Library of Congress to Host Conference on America’s Institutions of Knowledge

Event Marks Anniversaries of Morrill Act, National Academy of Sciences and Carnegie Libraries

The Library of Congress will host a day-long conference June 25 to celebrate the enduring legacies of three key events that shaped America’s knowledge-based democracy: passage of the Morrill Act, the founding of the National Academy of Sciences, and the founding of the Carnegie libraries. The conference is sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grantmaking foundation established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911.

The event will feature three panel discussions featuring university presidents from across the country, and remarks by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). The complete agenda is available here.

Held in cooperation with the Association of Public Land Grant Universities and the National Academy of Sciences, the event will take place in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE, Washington, DC, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

A wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial will take place after the symposium.

The vision of Rep. Justin Morrill of Vermont, the 37th Congress, and President Abraham Lincoln led to passage of the Morrill Act 150 years ago, establishing a system of universities across America and the founding of the National Academy of Sciences. A quarter-century later, Andrew Carnegie established the public library system.

"The leadership and vision of Justin Morrill and the 37th Congress, Andrew Carnegie and President Abraham Lincoln did no less than democratize knowledge in a young country, spreading access to books and education throughout the United States," said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. "One of the Library’s great advocates and patrons, James Madison, said ‘a people who mean to be their own governours, must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.’ This is an important story about Washington and the long-term potential for progress that can result from the intellectual creativity of our nation’s leaders."

The conference is part of the Library’s "Celebration of the Book," an ongoing series of programs, symposia and other events that explore the important and varied ways that books influence our lives. Events include an exhibition dedicated to "Books That Shaped America" opening June 25 and the Library of Congress National Book Festival on the National Mall, featuring more than 100 authors, poets and illustrators discussing their work September 22-23. The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. For more information about events connected with Celebration of the Book please visit and the Calendar of Events at .

# # #

PR 12-108
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top