Happy 215th Birthday, Library of Congress!

Library of Congress
On April 24, 1800, the Library of Congress was established to provide reference and research materials for Congress’ use. While the library’s primary mission still includes providing materials to support Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties, the library is also dedicated to “further[ing] the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.”Note1 "Welcome Message from the Librarian of Congress" About the Library. The Library of Congress. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. http://www.loc.gov/about/ Whether accessing the Library of Congress’ print materials, digital archives, research databases, or historical audio/visual materials, researchers from around the United States and the world have access to myriad resources. The library has come a long way from its original 740 volumes and three maps! Note2 "Today in History, April 24" American Memory. The Library of Congress. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/apr24.html

You can experience the wealth of information the Library of Congress has to offer right from the comfort of your own home. Take a look at five resources the Library of Congress provides access to via their website:

America’s Library

Education, exploration, and fun all rolled up in one! An entertaining and educational website to visit as a family. America’s Library is like an interactive United States of America encyclopedia -- complete with facts, data, and games. Test your presidential knowledge with “Dynamite Presidents,” play “Batter Up” to hone your baseball history skills, or learn about animation by making your own animated movie with “You’re the Animator.” The fun never stops while you improve your American history expertise!


Another fun and informative website to explore as a family. The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress promotes literacy, books, and reading via the Read.gov website. The website allows the Center for the Book to virtually reach people with classic texts, author webcasts, and literature resources. One of my favorite reading tools on the Read.gov site is the interactive reading game, “Readers to the Rescue.” Readers fill in the blanks to the story, and their creations are read to them with accompanying videos of the stories.

Today in History

I absolutely love the “Today in History” tool, which is part of the Library of Congress’ American Memory project. Just enter the day in which you are interested, and you get events that happened on that particular day, as well as an explanation as to how those events impacted America and its people. Photos and digitized materials from the Library of Congress’ collection accompany each “Today in History” summary, which provide insightful information about the day’s historical significance.

Online Exhibitions

Cannot make it to Washington, DC to see the current exhibition, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom? Take a look online! A Long Struggle for Freedom commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 with historical photographs, manuscripts, and maps, as well as multimedia resources of archival footage and interviews with civil rights leaders and activists. The exhibit also includes a 1949 interview with former slave, Fountain Hughes, sharing stories about his life before and after Emancipation.

Virtual Programs

You do not need to travel to the the Library of Congress’ building to attend a discussion or a lecture. The Library offers a variety of virtual programs. Journeys and Crossings is a webcast program, featuring Library curators sharing knowledge about their areas of expertise. Journeys and Crossings webcasts, which are also archived on the website, have covered topics from the publishing of the Declaration of Independence to Rosie the Riveter to Langston Hughes. The Library also has a Web Discussions program, which uses webinar technology to present and interact with participants from around the world. Past Web Discussions topics have included the role of Clara Barton in the Civil War and an overview of the Library’s maps collection.

Celebrate the Library of Congress’ birthday by taking a look at the what it was to offer on its website. You may just learn something new.

Anna Van S. 

Please note: Image 1 is a CC Image ("Library of Congress”) courtesy of Victoria Pickering on Flickr


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