Library of Congress comes to Portland streets

Library of Congress Portland
There's Thomas Jefferson's original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, which shows his literary flair and key changes made by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and the Continental Congress.

There's a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. And there's the only surviving copy of Martin Waldseemuller's 1507 map of the New World, the first to identify the American continent.

If you've never seen the remarkable documents or visited the National Library of Congress, there's an opportunity to sample its collections today in Monument Square. The library's free mobile exhibit, "Gateway to Knowledge," will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

"It's very impressive," said Tom Kelley, a college student in Portland who visited the exhibit on Friday. "I've never been to the Library of Congress, but I think I'll have to go, after seeing this."

The exhibit is presented in a custom-built, 18-wheel truck that contains several interactive, multimedia displays. They feature copies of priceless documents highlighting various collections from the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, which started with more than 6,000 books from Jefferson's personal library.

Portland is the exhibit's 84th stop on a nationwide tour that started a year ago. The exhibit will return to Washington, D.C., later this month for its 90th and final stop, during the National Book Festival on Sept. 25-26. This stop is hosted by Portland's Downtown District and the Portland Public Library.

The Library of Congress contains 145 million items, including books, maps, movies, music, comic strips and digital items, according to one display in the exhibit. They are written in 470 languages and are stored on 745 miles of bookshelves. The library receives 22,000 new items each workday and adds about 10,000 of those items to its collections.

The exhibit often impresses people who see it, said Abigail Van Gelder, a docent on the tour.

"People are surprised about what's available at the library or how much access they have," Van Gelder said. "There are very few restrictions. Many items are on display, and there are new exhibits all the time. Most items can be viewed with permission if people have a specific reason, such as research."

The exhibit in Monument Square attracted Elaine and Peter Connolly of Hartford, Conn., who are on vacation.

"It's so interesting," Elaine Connolly said, standing before a display about Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. "These are treasures that we should remind ourselves that we have."

Rubio to speak at Ronald Reagan Library in LA

South Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is heading to California.

Rubio is scheduled to speak August 23 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Southern California.

The speech will cover the proper role of the government. A spokesman for the senator said Wednesday that Rubio received a personal invitation from former first lady Nancy Reagan in January and felt the August recess was the best time to make the trip.

Following the speech, Rubio plans to join Nancy Reagan at a private dinner at the library located in the hills of Simi Valley, outside of Los Angeles.

A bit of fundraising is also likely on the calendar—though not with the former first lady.

New York Public Library Buys Timothy Leary’s Papers

The New York Public Library has obtained the papers of LSD guru Timothy Leary, who coined the phrase "turn on, tune in, drop out."

On Thursday, the library announced that it purchased 335 boxes of papers, videotapes, photographs and other items from the estate of Leary, who died in 1996.

Leary was a Harvard professor who became notorious for advocating the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. President Richard Nixon called Leary "the most dangerous man in America."

A trustee of Leary's estate tells The New York Times that the library paid $900,000 for the collection. Some of the money will be donated back to pay for the processing of the materials.

The collection includes letters from figures such as Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, G. Gordon Liddy and Cary Grant.

Ernie Harwell’s Memorabilia Collection is at Risk

Friends and custodians of a massive collection of baseball memorabilia donated by the late Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell to the Detroit Public Library say the artifacts are typically inaccessible to the public and that pieces are at risk of theft.

The primary caretaker of the collection that's worth an estimated $4 million was laid off in the year since Harwell's death, further limiting access to the appointment-only display at the library that had only 500 visitors in 2010, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

Library spokesman A.J. Funchess said the system has tightened security and the collection is not at risk, and the most valuable items are archived and secure.

"It's still available to people," Funchess said. "It may not be the ideal access they may like, but that is pretty much how we have to do it.

"We are doing the best we can do with what we have to work with. We are committed to these collections."Harwell, a baseball announcing legend, died in May 2010 at the age of 92. The collection includes thousands of baseball cards, letters and other artifacts.

Theft already has been a concern. Four years ago, a former library staffer was fired for stealing some of Harwell's baseball cards. The cards were returned, but the employee wasn't prosecuted and the newspaper reports officials can't be certain they got all the cards back.

A former librarian said many boxes of artifacts are stored — but un-catalogued — in the basement, meaning it is difficult to know if items have been removed.

"It's sad," said Ashley Koebel, who was laid off in March. "They are understaffed under the best of circumstances."

Harwell's friend and attorney Gary Spicer said Harwell was happy by the library's organization of his pieces, but that the display isn't what the broadcaster envisioned. "The Lulu and Ernie Harwell Display Room," which opened in 2004, is dark most days, visible through a window.

"He really wanted it to be open and accessible to people," Spicer said.

The library has cut staffing for its special collections by almost a third since 2007, including the National Automotive Heritage Collection and the E. Azalia Hackley Collection, which started in 1943 as a music collection devoted to black performers.

Only about a dozen employees remain to staff special collections. Mark Bowden, the Detroit library's coordinator for special collections, is now the only person overseeing the Harwell collection. He said special collections like Harwell's help make the library unique.

"This is so important for Detroit to have collections like this," he said.

Fascinating Facts about Library of Congress


The Library was founded in 1800, making it the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation. On August 24, 1814, British troops burned the Capitol building (where the Library was housed) and destroyed the Library's core collection of 3,000 volumes. On January 30, 1815, Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950.


The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 147 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves.
The collections include more than 33 million books and other print materials, 3 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 64.5 million manuscripts.

The Collections:

The Library receives some 22,000 items each working day and adds approximately 10,000 items to the collections daily. The majority of the collections are received through the Copyright registration process, as the Library is home to the U.S. Copyright Office. Materials are also acquired through gift, purchase, other government agencies (state, local and federal), Cataloging in Publication (a pre-publication arrangement with publishers) and exchange with libraries in the United States and abroad. Items not selected for the collections or other internal purposes are used in the Library’s national and international exchange programs. Through these exchanges, the Library acquires material that would not be available otherwise. The remaining items are made available to other federal agencies and are then available for donation to educational institutions, public bodies and nonprofit tax-exempt organizations in the United States.


Approximately half of the Library’s book and serial collections are in languages other than English. The collections contain materials in some 470 languages.

JFK Presidential Library opens new wing

The newest wing of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum was opened in an official ceremony, adding 30,000 square feet to the building at the edge of Dorchester Bay.

The wing includes 15,000 square feet of archive space, a staging area for exhibits, and a new temporary exhibit gallery. Back in 2001, the National Archives conducted a program review of the library and determined it had storage problems.
The additional space will help preserve the president's legacy, and also includes a tribute to Robert F. Kennedy with photographs, details, and some of his quotes.

“I am proud to open this addition that provides essential storage space for the historical treasures housed in this library and will allow it to fulfill its mission as the dynamic center of education that my parents envisioned,’’ said Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president and president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Berlin Library returns Books looted by Nazis

Berlin's state library handed back 13 books stolen by the Nazis to the Jewish community Wednesday as the German government pledged to redouble its efforts to return looted cultural treasures.

The emotional ceremony came about thanks to a new drive to research the provenance of state holdings with the aim of restitution, German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said.

"The 13 books being returned today preserve the memory of the Berlin Jewish community which was decimated and its members murdered or driven out," Neumann said. "That is why such projects are so important now and in the future."

The books returned at the event, held in the Centrum Judaicum cultural centre at Berlin's New Synagogue, included 19th and 20th century novels, history books, poetry collections, travel guides and bound newspaper volumes.

The yellowed pages bore fading stamps such as "Jewish Reading Room and Library Berlin" or "Jewish Community-Boys School Berlin". Many of the stamps had been simply covered over for more than six decades with the label of a German state institution.

The library said the origin of about 200,000 of its volumes needed to be researched. About 25,000 books have been investigated in the last 10 years and 5,100 of them categorized as likely stolen under the Nazis, who systematically looted Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues, schools and community centers. Those books that were not torched or lost often found their way to German libraries.

More than 100 books have now been handed back to their rightful owners but the library estimates it will take another 10 years to complete the detective work.

10000 reason to attend Friends' book sale at Towson Library

About 10,000 gently used books, CDs, DVDs and other items will be for sale at the Towson Library beginning Thursday, April 14.
It's the 17th annual Friends of the Towson Library Book Sale, and it will prove once again that the book, as an art form, is not a goner.

The sale may be the only situation in which taking away books and other items from a library makes it better.The sale is scheduled from Thursday, April 14, through Sunday, April 17. Proceeds will be used to buy amenities for the Towson Library not covered by the county budget.

Last year's sale grossed $12,616
, according to Friends president Dorothy Fraquelli. After expenditures for rented tables and signs (which can be used again in future years), that left $10,090 that will pay for making the library "such an inviting place to be," she said.

The sales have raised the money to buy prizes for the Summer Reading Club, tables for the bridge cafe, the dragon mural in the former faux koi pond, seating in the garden, computers, databases, art, plants and other items.

Admission is free, for Thursday evening from 5:30 to 8 p.m., when members of the Friends get in free, but the public has to pay $10 for the privilege of getting "first choice" of materials.

Sale hours continue Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., when stacks of most books and many other items will be sold for $2 a vertical foot. This will be the third sale for Knollwood-Donnybrook resident Sue Cornish, a member of the Friends group.

Books they expect will sell include five sets of the "Millenium" books by Stieg Larsson beginning with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," a good selection of Maryland books, children's and young adult books, as well as books on trains.

Zoo Atlanta library program spreads statewide

The Georgia Public Library Service and Zoo Atlanta have formed a partnership that will allow library card holders statewide free admission to the zoo. The launch of the program was publicized Wednesday on the steps of the state capitol.

Marcus Margerum, vice president of marketing and sales at Zoo Atlanta, explained at the announcement that anyone with a valid Georgia public library card can check out a Zoo Atlanta Family Pass DVD and upon its return, receive a receipt for free zoo admission for two adults and two children, an $80 value.

One DVD is available for checkout in each participating library for up to seven days. There will be no holds or waiting lists and families can take advantage of the program one time per year, per card and per household.

“I’ve been in this job for eight months and I’m often asked what the best thing is about working in a zoo,” said Raymond King, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. “If you can walk out in the park and see kids and families and the expressions on their faces, you realize why you’re there. We want to be accessible to every family in the state.”

The program was initially launched in 2009 in branches of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Margerum said public response was so strong that it made sense to expand the initiative to the state’s 400 public libraries in 159 counties.

Dr. Lamar Veatch, Georgia’s state librarian, called Zoo Atlanta “one of the great treasures of Georgia” and stressed the value of their collaboration “In this era of constant budget cutting, partnerships are very important,” Veatch said.

The Zoo Atlanta Family Pass DVD provides a history of the zoo as well as some glimpses into its future offerings. Yes, that refers to pandas.

Money Woes closing Main Camden Library

Feb 10th was the last day of operations for Camden's main public library. Budget cutbacks are forcing the branch to close.

It's a victim of the same budget crisis that was the result of layoffs last month of nearly 400 city government employees, including almost half the police department and one-third of the firefighters.

Last summer, it seemed as if all three of the city's branches might close. That was prevented when the county library system agreed to take over one of the branches. Rutgers University is planning to provide some space for general public use at the library on its campus downtown. It's not known when that will begin.

Camden is a city of 80,000 residents across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. It consistently ranks as one of the nation's most-impoverished cities. Most of its families don't own computers.