Library of Congress American Memory


President Ronald Reagan nominated James H. Billington as the 13th Librarian of Congress in 1987, and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment. Under Billington's leadership, the Library doubled the size of its analog collections from 85.5 million items in 1987 to more than 160 million items in 2014. At the same time, it established new programs and employed new technologies to, "get the champagne out of the bottle." These included: American Memory created in 1990, which became The National Digital Library in 1994, providing free access online to digitized American history and culture resources with curatorial explanations for K-12 education.

THOMAS.gov website launched in 1994 to provide free public access to U.S. federal legislative information with ongoing updates; and CONGRESS.gov website to provide a state-of-the-art framework for both Congress and the public in 2012; The National Book Festival, founded in 2000 with Laura Bush, has brought over 1000 authors and a million guests to the National Mall and the Washington Convention Center to celebrate reading.

With a major gift from David Rubenstein in 2013, the Library also established the Library of Congress Literacy Awards to recognize and support achievements in improving literacy in the U.S. and abroad; The Kluge Center, started with a grant of $60 million from John W. Kluge in 2000 to bring scholars and researchers from around the world to use Library resources and to interact with policymakers and the public.

It hosts public lectures and scholarly events, provides endowed Kluge fellowships, and awards The Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity (now worth $1.5 million), the first Nobel-level international prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences (subjects not included in the Nobel awards); Open World Leadership Center, established in 2000, administered 23,000 professional exchanges for emerging post-Soviet leaders in Russia, Ukraine and the other successor states of the former USSR by 2015. Open World began as a Library of Congress project, and later became an independent agency in the legislative branch.

The Veterans History Project, congressionally mandated in 2000 to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans from WWI to the present day; The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, which opened in 2007 at a 45-acre site in Culpeper, Virginia with the largest private gift ever made to the Library (more than $150 million by the Packard Humanities Institute) and $82.1 million additional support from Congress. In 1988, The Library also established the National Film Preservation Board, a congressionally mandated National Film Preservation Board to select American films annually for preservation and inclusion in the new National Registry.

The Librarian named 650 films to the Registry by 2015; The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, launched in 2007 to honor the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in song composition. Winners have included Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, and just-named Willie Nelson for November 2015.

The Library also launched the Living Legend Awards in 2000 to honor artists, activists, filmmakers, and others who have contributed to America's diverse cultural, scientific, and social heritage; The Fiction Prize (now the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction) started in 2008 to recognize distinguished lifetime achievement in the writing of fiction. The World Digital Library, established in association with UNESCO and 181 partners in 81 countries in 2009, to make online copies of professionally curated primary materials of the world's varied cultures freely available in multiple languages.

National Jukebox launched in 2011 to provide streaming free online access to more than 10,000 out-of-print music and spoken word recordings. BARD in 2013, digital talking books mobile app for Braille and Audio Reading Downloads in partnership with the Library's National Library Service for the blind and physically handicapped, that enables free downloads of audio and Braille books to mobile devices via the Apple App Store.

 
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