July 10, 2000 Bicentennial Celebration Activities Continue at the Library of Congress

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217, Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

Although April 24, the official 200th birthday of the Library of Congress, has passed, there are other activities to come during the Library's Bicentennial year.

Oct. 23-26: Symposium: "National Libraries of the World: Interpreting the Past and Shaping the Future." The symposium will explore the influences that have shaped national libraries in the past and issues confronting them today. "National Libraries of the World" is cosponsored with the American Library Association's Library History Round Table and the National Libraries, Reading, and Library History sections of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Oct. 30-31: Symposium: "To Preserve and Protect: The Strategic Stewardship of Cultural Resources." In affiliation with the Association of Research Libraries, this is a two-day symposium for directors and administrators of libraries, museums and archives who oversee preservation and collections security programs.

Nov. 15-17: Symposium: "Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked Resources and the Web." This symposium is intended to provide a premier international forum for authorities in the cataloging and metadata communities to discuss outstanding issues involving the bibliographic challenges of providing description and access to Web resources. The focus of the conference is on a discussion of the issues with primary attention to proposed solutions and action items.

December (date to be determined): National Digital Library Program's "Gift to the Nation." Established in 1994, the Library's National Digital Library Program, with its flagship American Memory project, has become the nation's premier source of millions of important American historical materials on the Internet at www.loc.gov. This event will mark the Library's reaching its goal of making available online 5 million rare items from its collections. The National Digital Library Program is the Library of Congress's Bicentennial "Gift to the Nation."

For information on participating in these activities, see the Library's Bicentennial Web site at www.loc.gov/bicentennial.

Bicentennial Activities, 1999-2000

One of the most notable Bicentennial celebrations was the Local Legacies event on May 23. Local Legacies is a major program of the Library's Bicentennial, in which citizens across the nation, working through their local U.S. senator or representative, have documented local traditions. More than 1,300 projects were selected by members of Congress for inclusion in the collections of the Library of Congress. Project participants came to Washington to meet with their congressional representatives, tour the Library's facilities and see their project submissions in the process of being cataloged.

Portions of this unprecedented effort to record traditional activities and events are being digitized and made available on the Library's Web site at www.loc.gov. The materials submitted by participants will be preserved and maintained as part of the permanent collections of the Library's American Folklife Center.

Other past Bicentennial activities include:

  • May 1999: The first Bicentennial exhibition, "The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention," opened with a display dedicated to this husband-and-wife design team. The exhibition of American creativity was one of four planned to celebrate each aspect of the Library's Bicentennial theme of "Libraries, Creativity, Liberty."
  • June 15-17, 1999: The first in a series of Bicentennial symposia, "Frontiers of the Mind in the Twenty-First Century," was held. Distinguished scholars summarized significant developments in approximately 24 fields of knowledge in the past century and looked ahead to the challenges of the next century.
  • October 1999: The Library began a three-year series of free concerts and film screenings, called "I Hear America Singing." The series looks back to the nation's heritage of popular song. The 1999-2000 season has highlighted Bobby Short & His Orchestra, the Juilliard String Quartet, the Martha Graham Dancers, a jazz film series and the Beaux Arts Trio, among others. The season closed May 22 with a 70th Birthday Celebration for Stephen Sondheim.
  • November 1999: To celebrate all libraries, November brought together the two largest libraries in the English-speaking world with the opening of the exhibition "John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations," with materials from the Library of Congress and the British Library.
  • March 2000: "Democracy and the Rule of Law in a Changing World Order," a four-day international symposium, featured an array of legal professionals, including five Supreme Court justices.
  • April 3-4, 2000: During National Poetry Month, the Library hosted a number of related events, including a radio series and a symposium. "Poetry and the American People: Reading, Voice, and Publication in the 19th and 20th Centuries," held April 3-4, 2000, was a two-day poetry reading and symposium hosted by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, with three Pulitzer Prize-winning poets as guests.
  • April 21, 2000: "The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale," opened April 21 and features more than 100 objects, including costumes borrowed from other institutions and private collectors. The exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of one of the most well-known copyrights ever issued by the U.S. Copyright Office. For nearly 130 years, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress has celebrated and protected American creativity.
  • April 24, 2000: The Library of Congress's 200th birthday: Two commemorative coins and a stamp were issued; a new Web site, "America's Library," available at www.americaslibrary.gov, for children and families debuted; a three-hour birthday party and concert on the East Lawn of the Capitol was held; more than 80 "Living Legends" were honored; and the exhibition "Thomas Jefferson" opened with a reception in the Great Hall. Dedicated to this "genius of liberty," the "Thomas Jefferson" exhibition highlights the reconstitution for the first time of Jefferson's library -- the 6,487 books that arrived in Washington from Monticello in the spring of 1815 -- in one place, in the order that Jefferson himself devised for their classification.
  • April 25 - May 31, 2000: Commemorative stamp second-day issue events were held nationwide for the Library of Congress commemorative stamp, issued by the U.S. Postal Service on April 24.

Three publications were issued in April to commemorate the Library's 200th birthday. America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000, by James Conaway, recounts how the Library of Congress, which began in 1800 with the primary mission of serving the United States Congress, has evolved into the world's largest repository of knowledge. The Library of Congress: An Architectural Alphabet offers an illustrated tour of the Library's art and architecture created by some 50 artists. Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty focuses on Jefferson's public career as well as his personal life at his beloved Monticello. Scheduled for publication this summer, The Nation's Library: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., is the Library's first guidebook to be published in more than 10 years. A comprehensive encyclopedia of the Library of Congress is currently in production for publication next year.


PR 00-076
ISSN 0731-3527