April 24, 2000 "America's Library" Web Site for Kids and Families Debuts

"There's a Better Way to Have Fun with History"

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

"America's Library" (www.americaslibrary.gov), a new, easy-to-use and entertaining Web site designed especially for children and their families, debuts today from the Library of Congress. The site was created to provide kids with an entertaining educational experience that draws on the unparalleled American historical collections of the Library.

"'America's Library' is our latest initiative to make the Library's collections as accessible as possible to all Americans," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "With this new Web site, children and their families will be able to learn about history in a new and exciting way. 'America's Library' puts the 'story' back in history."

Through the use of stories, richly embellished with photographs, maps, prints, manuscripts, and audio and video recordings from the Library's collections, "America's Library" invites users to learn about our past through extraordinary, at times idiosyncratic, materials, many of which have never been seen by the public. Interactive elements such as a "Scavenger Hunt" and "Send a Postcard" will encourage exploration of the site, and animated "teasers" on the main home page will delight users of all ages. Questions invite children to talk to their family and friends about what they have learned.

Bold graphics and bright colors will entice users to click on the following main home page links:

Meet Amazing Americans
Do you know what Abraham Lincoln had in his pockets on the night he was assassinated? Or the name of the newspaper that Frederick Douglass started to promote freedom for all slaves? The answers are among the fascinating facts conveyed in this section about these and other amazing Americans such as George Washington, Buffalo Bill, Harriet Tubman, Houdini and Teddy Roosevelt. (Answers: Lincoln was carrying eyeglasses, a handkerchief, nine newspaper clippings -- all favorable to Lincoln -- a lens polisher and a $5 Confederate note. Frederick Douglass founded The North Star, so named because slaves escaping at night often followed the North Star in the sky to freedom.)

Jump Back in Time
On what day did Thurgood Marshall become a Supreme Court Justice? Who was the first woman doctor in the United States? Click on "Jump Back in Time" and visit any day in history. (Answers: On Oct. 2, 1967, Marshall became the first African American Supreme Court justice. Elizabeth Blackwell was America's first woman doctor; she graduated on Oct. 19, 1849, with an M.D. from a medical college in New York -- the only school that would accept her.)

Explore the States
Take a trip across the country without ever leaving your home. Do you know how Virginia got its name? Or why people from Oklahoma are sometimes called "Sooners"? What's the "Golden State"? (Answers: Virginia is named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England. "Sooners" are thus named because in 1889, these people had already staked their claims before the land was officially opened for settlement. The "Golden State" is California.)

Join America at Play
From America's pastime -- baseball -- to dancing, the nation at play is the focus. Everyone thinks of baseball as a uniquely American game, but do you know its origin? Is break-dancing a recent invention? (Answers: No one is exactly sure how baseball began, but it seems to have its roots in the English children's game called "rounders" or "four-old-cat" that was pictured in a British children's magazine in 1760. A film from 1898 shows an early "break-dancer" in New York City.)

See, Hear and Sing
The origins of animation, oddball instruments, and disasters, devastation and destruction are among the topics explored through films and sound recordings. Want to know who invented animation and when? Or the magnitude of the great earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1906? (Answers: Georges Melies in 1896. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 registered 8.3.)

"America's Library" marks the first time in its history that the Library of Congress has created a public service advertising campaign in partnership with the Advertising Council. This campaign -- "There's a Better Way to Have Fun with History ... Log On. Play Around. Learn Something" -- was created through the Advertising Council, with creative services donated by DDB Worldwide in Chicago. The spots will be distributed to 3,200 television stations and more than 6,000 radio stations nationwide on April 24. In addition to television and radio spots, an innovative Web banner featuring a pop-up film will be available for viewing and downloading through the Ad Council Web site at www.adcouncil.org External.

The Advertising Council is a private, nonprofit organization that has been the leading producer of public service communications programs in the United States since 1942. The Council supports campaigns that benefit children, families and communities. The communications programs are national in scope and have generated strong, measurable results. Ad Council campaigns, such as "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Take A Bite Out of Crime," and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," have helped to save lives and resources, to educate the public about issues and concerns of the day, and to make America a healthier country in which to live. In 1998, Ad Council campaigns received more than $1 billion in donated media time and space.

DDB Chicago is the largest of the DDB agencies worldwide, with more than 750 employees and 1999 billings of $1.2 billion. The agency works for a strong roster of blue-chip clients such as Anheuser-Busch, Energizer, FTD, General Mills, Lands' End, McDonald's, Sara Lee, State Farm and U S West Communications.

"America's Library" was designed by 415 Productions Inc. of San Francisco. 415 Inc. is a full-service Web development firm providing custom online solutions that combine integrated strategy, cutting-edge technology, creative design and innovative user experiences. From Fortune 500 enterprises to internationally recognized arts organizations and upstart dot- coms, 415's clients include Hewlett-Packard, McGraw-Hill, Macromedia, Credit Suisse, the Library of Congress, 3Com, Fairmont Hotels, Hasbro, Intel, Lego and Providian Financial.

The content of the Web site has been reviewed by historians in the Library of Congress as well as by Distinguished University Professor of American History James B. Gilbert at the University of Maryland.

"America's Library" is a project of the Library of Congress's Public Affairs Office and the National Digital Library Program. By the end of 2000, the flagship American Memory project (www.loc.gov) will offer more than 5 million historically important items, in collaboration with other institutions. More than 70 American Memory collections are now available in topics ranging from presidential papers and photographs from the Civil War, to early films of Thomas Edison and panoramic maps, to documents from the women's suffrage and civil rights movements.


PR 00-051
ISSN 0731-3527