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Remembering 9/11

In addition to the obvious impact of 9/11 on the Library of Congress and its staff, the tragedy also had an almost immediate effect on the institution's collections.

Soon after the attacks, the Library began to think about how it would collect materials that would document the events for the future.

In the Prints and Photographs Division, curators began to assemble photographs made within minutes of the attacks. Also gathered for the collections were illustrations and other pictorial accounts.

William Clark's compass and case Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, Senate majority leader, Sept. 1955.

The Serial and Government Publications Division gathered thousands of newspapers, both the regular editions as well as extra and special editions published on Sept. 11.

The American Folklife Center asked folklorists nationwide to document the reactions of citizens. The result was that the center received hundreds of hours of taped interviews conducted by professional ethnographers, teachers, students and others. You can listen to a selection of these interviews in the exhibition "Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress." You can also see personal renderings such as "God Bless America," a third-grader's pictorial reaction to the attacks.

The Geography and Map Division collected cartographic materials that document the role maps played in managing the recovery effort. Traditional surveying and mapping techniques as well as modern electronic and remote sensing technologies were employed to aid the rescue and recovery operations, including remote sensing and aerial imagery.

Foreign area specialists from the Library's Area Studies divisions and Overseas Field Offices, with extensive knowledge of the world's languages and cultures, immediately began collecting and interpreting press reactions and forewarnings from around the world.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division collected such rare and handmade items as "The Message,"a book by Kitty Caparella, a reporter and artist living in Philadelphia.

The "Library of Congress Information Bulletin," which reports monthly on the programs, events, policies and collections of the institution, published a special September 11 issue on the first anniversary of the attacks. The issue provides a comprehensive look at the ways in which Library staff mobilized to capture the sometimes ephemeral materials that are produced when tragedy of such a massive nature strikes.

A. Brian Niemann, artist. "'In Memory,' 9/11/01," 2002. Color offset lithograph. Gift of Griffith Phillips Creative. Prints and Photographs Division

B. New York State Office for Technology (c 2001) and EarthData International, WTC - LIDAR Three Dimensional Model, 2001. Geography and Map Division.

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