Washington--As part of its celebration of the bicentenary of the U.S. Congress, the Library of Congress last week unveiled an initiative to open up its “national treasure chest” to millions of students and teachers.
Under the project, conducted with the American Library Association and partly funded by Commodore Business Machines Inc., the library will create an institute that will allow 30 teachers and librarians from around the country to come to Washington for two weeks to attend lectures and workshops and study primary-source materials.
The library will also mount an exhibition on the history of the Congress entitled “To Make All Laws.” To be on permanent display at the Library of Congress, it will travel to 30 public libraries beginning next fall.
A package of educational materials that schools may purchase will also be developed.
“This new program reaches out beyond Washington to schools and libraries,” James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said at a press conference here. “We hope to use the bicentenary as an opportunity to improve political literacy generally.”
Bruno Manno, acting assistant secretary of education for educational research and improvement, called the project a “significant step” toward reducing the ignorance about U.S. history displayed by students in recent studies.
The educators’ institute, Mr. Billington said, will improve students’ understanding of history by introducing their teachers and librarians to a wealth of materials on what he called “one of our least understood and least studied institutions of government.”
Participants, he said, will join scholars in examining original-source materials, publications, and multimedia collections available only at the Library of Congress.
In addition to helping teachers learn about the subject, the project will also aid “the custodians of the national memory to relate to the concerns and interests of live students,” Mr. Billington said.
The traveling exhibition will extend the library’s collections to millions of “latchkey” children who wait in public libraries until their parents return home from work, noted Patricia W. Berger, president-elect of the ala
The exhibit can also improve the teaching of history by “animating” the subject for young people, said Harold D. Copperman, Commodore’s president and chief operating officer. In addition to rare documents, it will include an interactive videodisk featuring interviews with members of the Congress.
“With technology,” Mr. Copperman said, “we can take 200 years of Congress and make them come alive to people who cannot come to Washington."--rr
A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 1989 edition of Education Week as For 200th Year, Library Creates Exhibition, Educators’ Institute