"Library Of Congress Experience" Debuts April 12; Exhibits, Interactives Put Exciting World Of Knowledge At Fingertips

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Library of Congress debuts new "Library of Congress Experience," providing visitors with an inspiring multimedia "overture" on the collections and programs of the Library, and a continuing online educational experience at the upcoming Web site: myLOC.gov.

Visitors of the new Library of Congress Experience will find an amazing place where they will experience highlights of the largest collection anywhere of the world's knowledge and America's creativity

The Library of Congress-the largest library in the world and the oldest U.S. federal cultural institution-on Saturday, April 12, 2008, debuts an immersive, new "Library of Congress Experience," offering visitors unique historical and cultural treasures brought to life through cutting-edge interactive technology and a companion Web site. The Experience comprises a series of new ongoing exhibitions, dozens of interactive kiosks, an inspiring multimedia "overture" on the collections and programs of the Library, and a continuing online educational Experience at the upcoming Web site myLOC.gov. All exhibits are free and open to the public.

There will also be a press preview for credentialed media at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 in the Library's Jefferson Building. Local teachers and students will be attending for additional interview and photo opportunities. Press can register at http://www.loc.gov/experience for images, broll, podcasts with Library curators, background, interviews and Experience updates.

As part of the grand opening, the Library launched a new microsite to provide details about the new exhibitions and enable the public to participate in the Experience directly. Because the Experience celebrates and showcases the creativity and contributions of our nation's early cultures, great minds and other founding influences, people nationwide now have the opportunity to submit to the Library their own unique works in the form of stories, poems, video, audio, photos-anything that can be transmitted in an electronic file. Select entries will be chosen to be part of the Library's permanent collection, joining the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and other cultural and historic legends.

The Great Hall
Visitors to the Library's historic Thomas Jefferson Building enter directly into the first floor Great Hall via three bronze doors, which will be opened to the public for the first time in decades on April 12, the day before Jefferson's 265th birthday.

From there they are directed to one of two orientation galleries flanking the Great Hall, where information about events and how to navigate the new Experience is presented on overhead monitors. A multimedia "overture" plays on a multi-screen collage in each orientation gallery.

There they receive a Passport to Knowledge, a guide to the "greatest hits" of the Experience and instructions for self-guided audio tours. Later in 2008, a unique barcode on the Passport of Knowledge will allow visitors to play a game-based activity called Knowledge Quest and to "bookmark" objects of interest for later exploration on a personalized Web site at myLOC.gov.

In the Great Hall, interactive technology allows visitors to zoom in on the artistic and architectural details of the space, and enhances a display of two of the Library's most prized objects: the Gutenberg Bible and Giant Bible of Mainz.

Creating the U.S.
"Creating the U.S." tells the story of how our Founding Fathers used creativity, collaboration and compromise to form our nation, with a focus on the words and phrases that created the republic. Visitors can examine and interact with historic drafts of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's copy of the Constitution and John Beckley's Bill of Rights.

Thomas Jefferson's Library
Visitors can explore a re-created version of Jefferson's library in its original "nautilus" configuration, featuring more than 2,000 original volumes that provided the foundation for the Library of Congress and its universal collections. They also can navigate books through page-turning technology and learn how one of America's greatest thinkers was inspired.

Exploring the Early Americas
The Library of Congress Experience incorporates the "Exploring the Early Americas" exhibit, which opened in December 2007.

The exhibition tells the story of the Americas before the time of Columbus, as well as the period of contact, conquest and their aftermath. It features unique objects from the Library's Jay I. Kislak Collection, as well as Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 Map of the World, the first document to use the word "America."

A companion Web site to the Library of Congress Experience, myLOC.gov, also launches April 12, 2008.

The site features interactive versions of the same exhibition content from the physical experience, educational resources, information for visitors, and a page where users can create their own virtual collection of Library objects. Later in 2008, the Passport to Knowledge will connect onsite visitors to their bookmarked content at myLOC.gov.

Interactive educational content will be the hallmark of the Library's new Experience. Teachers will have access to a range of educational resources that will transform a visit to the Library into a meaningful experience for learners of all ages. Onsite and online multimedia activities will engage young people to think critically, inspiring lifelong learning and future exploration of the Library's collections.

"Visitors of the new Library of Congress Experience will find an amazing place where they will experience highlights of the largest collection anywhere of the world's knowledge and America's creativity," said Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress.

"They will meet the richness of the past, spark their own curiosity and imagination, and continue the adventure of learning online, at home."

Public Celebration
A day of public celebration on Saturday, April 12, at the Thomas Jefferson Building (10 First St. SE, Washington, D.C., 20540) marks the opening of the Library of Congress Experience.

Festivities kick off at 11 a.m., with the formal opening of the bronze doors and exhibits to the public at noon (coinciding with the conclusion of the Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival) until 5 p.m.

There will be music and entertainment, activities for young people, presentations featuring Library programs such as the Veterans History Project, and the designation of several new Living Legends from many walks of life.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, which bring to bear the world's knowledge in almost all of the world's languages and America's private sector intellectual and cultural creativity in almost all formats. The Library seeks to spark the public's imagination and celebrate human achievement through its programs and exhibits. In doing so, the Library helps foster the informed and involved citizenry upon which American democracy depends. Today, the Library serves the public, scholars, Members of Congress and their staff--all of whom seek information, understanding and inspiration.


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