The Library of Congress Experience and myLOC.Gov

Article excerpt

Located online at: www.loc.gov/exper ience and www.myloc.gov.

Access Fee: None.

Audience: Middle and high school students through adults.

Format: Two websites using interactive technologies to offer access to selected collections from the Library of Congress.

Minimum System Requirements: Acomputer with internet access and a web browser.

Some programs (such as Silverlight 1.0 or 2.0) are required to view documents. These programs can be downloaded at the website.

Description: The two companion websites, the Library of Congress Experience and myLOC.gov, offer opportunities to explore one of the premier repositories of information in the U.S., the Library of Congress (LC).

Reviewer Comments:

Access: The Library of Congress Experience, a free website, requires no registration. The site loaded quickly with no problems.

The myLOC website is accessed for free after registering an email address and password. There was no problem getting access to the site. I installed Silverlight directly from the site with no problems and no operation glitches. Access Rating:A

Content/Features: The free Library of Congress Experience website allows for the previsit exploration of current LC exhibits. The site also permits the public to submit creative works such as stories, poems, videos, and photos--anything that can be transmitted electronically--to be considered for addition to the LC's permanent collection.

myLOC, the free companion website to the Library of Congress Experience, is the site most likely to be used in a school setting. myLOC enables users to experience a vicarious visit to the LC's current exhibits through a host of multimedia presentations.

The myLOC site also offers lesson plans related to selected documents and realia, a Select and Store feature to help users identify items in the collection for future use, as well as related readings and websites for additional study. Online activities include the opportunity to "draft" the Declaration of Independence and interactive tours of the LC's art and architecture.

Each exhibit begins with its own homepage. Navigation is made easy by a tabbed menu bar and a "cookie crumb" trail at the top of the page that points back to the homepage. The formats of all of the exhibits follow a similar pattern, with features including Overview, Themes, Interactives, Programs, Object List, and Learn More.

At the time of this review, the four available exhibits on the website included Exploring the Early Americas, Creating the United States, Thomas Jefferson's Library, and the Library of Congress Bible Collection.

The Exploring the Early Americas exhibit provides an incredibly rich experience that covers the precontact world of the Americas with a focus on the Mayan culture, the explorations of the Spanish, and the aftermath of the encounter of the two cultures.

The text of each theme is illustrated with documents, maps, drawings, prints, artifacts, and other primary source materials selected to provide a great depth of knowledge. Each theme is broken down into smaller segments. Pre-Contact America, for example, includes subjects such as Urban Landscapes, Language and Context, The Heavens and Time, and more. All of the artifacts and documents may be enlarged; links to specific materials may be added to a user's collection for later use.

As students dig deeper into each theme, the path back to the homepage follows them. This is a wonderful feature in light of the depth of these exhibitions.

The Interactives segment offers the ability to examine artifacts, books, and documents in detail. In an exploration of writing and hieroglyphs on artifacts from the Mayan culture, for example, each vessel can be manipulated so that very fine detail may be observed. A text and audio accompaniment is provided for each item.

The Programs section provides a list of LC programming related to the exhibition, including upcoming speakers and discussions. …