America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000

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9780300083088: America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000
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The Library of Congress, considered by many to be the greatest library on earth, holds over 110 million items books in 450 languages, irreplaceable national documents, priceless art works, and objects of cultural fascination. From a modest collection of 740 books purchased by the Congress in 1800, the Library has grown to house hundreds of miles of bookshelves. Laid end to end, they would stretch from Washington, D.C., to Chicago. This book tells the continuously interesting story of the first two hundred years of the Library of Congress. It is a vast history, filled with an immense cast of characters ranging from presidents, poets, journalists, and congressmen to collectors, artists, curators, and eccentrics.

James Conaway centers this history around the thirteen men who have been appointed by presidents to lead the Library of Congress. The author investigates how the Librarians’ experiences and contributions, as well as the Library’s collections, have reflected political and intellectual developments in the United States. Each Librarian confronted great challenges: the entire Library collection was lost when the British burned the Capitol in 1814; in the 1940s, a backlog of one and a half million objects waited to be catalogued; the gigantic task of replacing the card catalogue with a computerized system was undertaken in the 1980s. Yet each Librarian also enjoyed the excitement of acquiring unique treasures from Walt Whitman’s walking stick to the papers of the Wright brothers, from the Civil War photographs of Mathew Brady to the archives of Leonard Bernstein. This lively account of the Library of Congress and those who guided its progress over two centuries is the history of an American institution that today is truly a library to the world, serving readers and researchers everywhere.

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About the Author:

James Conaway is the author of eight books. He is the former Washington editor of Harper’s and has written for many publications including Civilization, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and Preservation.

From Publishers Weekly:

Founded in 1800 as a resource for lawmakers, the Library of Congress is one of the greatest libraries in existence, with more than 110 million items in holding, including books in 450 different languages, national documents and art works. Conaway (The Smithsonian) investigates the Library's history from the vantage point of the 13 Librarians of Congress, to illustrate how their experiences and contributions have reflected political and intellectual developments in the U.S. Several Librarians of Congress stayed on for decades, dedicating their lives to the institution. The first, John J. Beckley, appointed in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson, was confronted with an enormous challenge when the original collection was engulfed in flames during the British's burning of the Capitol by the British in 1812. Aimsworth Rand Spofford, appointed by Abraham Lincoln, succeeded in securing copyright deposit at the Library, thus ensuring its place as the national repository. Appointed by William McKinley, Herbert Putnam made the cataloging system available to U.S. libraries, while Archibald MacLeish, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the Library as an important cultural center through his acquisitions and literature programs. The current Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, appointed by Ronald Reagan, has made a good portion of the collection available electronically. This is an engrossing and comprehensive read, as much a history of the people who made the Library of Congress what it is today--a library to the world--as it is a rich chronicle of the magnificent institution. 100 b&w and 12 color illus. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2000. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Library of Congress, considered by many to be the greatest library on earth, holds over 110 million items-books in 450 languages, irreplaceable national documents, priceless art works, and objects of cultural fascination. From a modest collection of 740 books purchased by the Congress in 1800, the Library has grown to house hundreds of miles of bookshelves. Laid end to end, they would stretch from Washington, D.C., to Chicago. This book tells the continuously interesting story of the first two hundred years of the Library of Congress. It is a vast history, filled with an immense cast of characters ranging from presidents, poets, journalists, and congressmen to collectors, artists, curators, and eccentrics. James Conaway centers this history around the thirteen men who have been appointed by presidents to lead the Library of Congress. The author investigates how the Librarians' experiences and contributions, as well as the Library's collections, have reflected political and intellectual developments in the United States. Each Librarian confronted great challenges: the entire Library collection was lost when the British burned the Capitol in 1814; in the 1940s, a backlog of one and a half million objects waited to be catalogued; the gigantic task of replacing the card catalogue with a computerized system was undertaken in the 1980s. Yet each Librarian also enjoyed the excitement of acquiring unique treasures-from Walt Whitman's walking stick to the papers of the Wright brothers, from the Civil War photographs of Mathew Brady to the archives of Leonard Bernstein. This lively account of the Library of Congress and those who guided its progress over two centuries is the history of an American institution that today is truly a library to the world, serving readers and researchers everywhere. Seller Inventory # BZV9780300083088

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2000. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Library of Congress, considered by many to be the greatest library on earth, holds over 110 million items-books in 450 languages, irreplaceable national documents, priceless art works, and objects of cultural fascination. From a modest collection of 740 books purchased by the Congress in 1800, the Library has grown to house hundreds of miles of bookshelves. Laid end to end, they would stretch from Washington, D.C., to Chicago. This book tells the continuously interesting story of the first two hundred years of the Library of Congress. It is a vast history, filled with an immense cast of characters ranging from presidents, poets, journalists, and congressmen to collectors, artists, curators, and eccentrics. James Conaway centers this history around the thirteen men who have been appointed by presidents to lead the Library of Congress. The author investigates how the Librarians' experiences and contributions, as well as the Library's collections, have reflected political and intellectual developments in the United States. Each Librarian confronted great challenges: the entire Library collection was lost when the British burned the Capitol in 1814; in the 1940s, a backlog of one and a half million objects waited to be catalogued; the gigantic task of replacing the card catalogue with a computerized system was undertaken in the 1980s. Yet each Librarian also enjoyed the excitement of acquiring unique treasures-from Walt Whitman's walking stick to the papers of the Wright brothers, from the Civil War photographs of Mathew Brady to the archives of Leonard Bernstein. This lively account of the Library of Congress and those who guided its progress over two centuries is the history of an American institution that today is truly a library to the world, serving readers and researchers everywhere. Seller Inventory # BTE9780300083088

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