Library of Congress Seeks Test Sites

Article excerpt

Library of Congress Seeks Test Sites

The Library of Congress is selecting 30 libraries throughout the nation to serve as evaluation sites for its American Memory program, one of its most innovative research projects using new technologies.

The electronic database project, which has already been tested in 11 locations, has received enthusiastic endorsement. The program is one of the ways the Library of Congress intends to make its collections more readily accessible to users across the nation.

Starting in the fall of 1991, the Library of Congress will conduct a user evaluation of the American Memory program, and would like to hear from libraries interested in serving as test sites. The Library will lend software to test sites in the form of compact discs (CD-ROM) and videodiscs. Sites must furnish their own hardware. The evaluation will guide the Library as it continues to develop this exciting new program.

American Memory will offer a selection of the Library's American history and culture collections on CD-ROM, videodisc, and, in the future, via telecommunications. It has drawn its multimedia collections from the Library's rich holdings of photographs, manuscripts, motion pictures, books, and sound recordings. Each electronic collection is an indexed archive of primary documents with little or no editing. Some collections are accompanied by an interactive, computerized program that introduces and interprets the collection. A few collections will also offer printed guides containing historical background and suggestions as to how users might effectively utilize the collection.

Although varied in content, the first American Memory collections focus on history and the social sciences. They illuminate several time periods, with the strongest emphasis on the period spanning 1880-1920. Available collections might include: African-American Pamphlets, 1820-1920; First-Person Narratives of California, 1849-1900; Ethnic Folk Music from Northern California, 1938-1940; Films of President William McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition, 1901; Life Histories from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1939; Films of New York City, 1897-1906; Sound Recordings from America's Leaders, 1918-1920; Photographs from William Henry Jackson and the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920; Selected Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865; Documents of the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789. …

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