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Experience Is Best Teacher at Library of Congress

American Libraries, June-July 2008 | Go to article overview

Experience Is Best Teacher at Library of Congress


The Library of Congress has launched an immersive "Library of Congress Experience" that offers visitors unique historical and cultural treasures brought to life through cutting-edge interactive technology and a companion website.

The LC Experience comprises a series of ongoing exhibitions, dozens of interactive kiosks, and an inspirational multimedia "overture" on the collections and programs of the library. All the exhibits are free and open to the public in Washington, D.C., with a continuing online educational component at myloc.gov.

The site enables the public to participate directly in the Experience by way of "Inspiration Across the Nation," which celebrates and showcases the creativity and contributions of our nation's early cultures, great minds, and other founding influences. It also offers the public the opportunity to submit to the library their own creative works in the forms of stories, poems, video, audio, photos--anything that can be transmitted in an electronic file. LC intends to select some entries to be part of the library's permanent collections.

Visitors to the historic Thomas Jefferson Building enter directly into the first-floor Great Hall via three bronze doors, which were opened to the public for the first time in nearly two decades during the debut of the Experience on April 12, a 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 multiscreen collage in each orientation gallery.

Visitors then receive a Passport to Knowledge--a guide to the "greatest hits" of the Experience with instructions for self-guided audio tours.

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