Alex Gangitano writes: “Down a corridor inside the LC’s Thomas Jefferson Building, a code just for members of Congress guards a special room. Even lawmakers’ spouses can’t walk into the Congressional Reading Room alone. But when a member of Congress unlocks the door, it opens to a private space staffed by a Congressional Research Service employee, there to answer questions and assist members seeking materials. The room is stocked with periodicals, books, desks, and computers.”
Roll Call, Oct. 19
Elizabeth Gettins writes: “There is a mystique surrounding libraries with old rare books, and the Library of Congress is no exception. Just think of all the dark and vast vaults of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division that are closed to the public and imagine what undiscovered treasures they hold. Now, thanks to the digital age, the stacks are open and searchable—everyone can access these untold treasures through our newly released web portal.”
Library of Congress Blog, Oct. 20
Alice Randall writes: “A school board sparked outrage in mid-October when it voted to cut To Kill a Mockingbird from 8th-grade reading lists in Biloxi, Mississippi. Some people complained that the book’s language made them uncomfortable. While the backlash was swift, those who blindly defend the book are missing an important point. If the criteria for inclusion was simply whether the novel provokes tough discussions, Harper Lee’s opus belongs in as many classrooms as possible. But that is not the only question.”
NBC News: Think, Oct. 19
On October 19, New York’s three library systems—New York Public Library, Queens Library, and Brooklyn Public Library—forgave all fines for children 17 and under and unblocked their library cards. The one-time amnesty is underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines. The amnesty “is a dramatic way to message to kids and young adults that we want you back, and we want you reading,” said NYPL President Anthony Marx.
New York Times, Oct. 18
Laurie Putnam writes: “Librarians and journalists can be powerful allies. As a librarian who writes, I see every day that the substance of our work, in the library and the newsroom, is formed of similar elements. Questions and answers. Connections and community. Thoughtful research and accurate information. The library, as WBEZ Chicago’s Curious City discovered, is ‘ground receptive to any kind of curiosity,’ a source for story ideas, audience engagements, and research support.”
Local News Lab, Oct. 19
The deadline to register for the 2018 ALA-sponsored tour to Cuba has been extended to December 1. Join ALA on another seven-day tour to Cuba, March 3–10, 2018. The tour includes visits to UNESCO historical sites in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad, along with interactions with Cuban artists, musicians, and writers. There will be several opportunities to visit Cuban libraries in different cities.
International Relations Office, Oct. 19
On October 19, the Library of Congress launched the Congressional Data Challenge, a competition asking participants to use legislative data sets on Congress.gov and other platforms to develop digital projects that analyze, interpret, or share congressional data in user-friendly ways. Submissions can be interactive visualizations, mobile or desktop apps, a website, or other digital creations. Entries will be evaluated on usefulness, creativity, and design. Entries are due April 2 and must be submitted through the Challenge.gov platform.
Library of Congress Blog, Oct. 19