Library of Congress Showcases Its Historic Site, New Resource for NECC Attendees

July 01, 2009 2 min read

Our intern and guest blogger, Tim Ebner, has this report:

The historic Library of Congress proved an apropos site for a field trip for the educators attending the National Educational Computing Conference here in Washington. The Library of Congress is the largest public repository of its kind in the world, home to 140 million materials, which include books, videos, and artifacts.

Visitors at a reception last night had open access to tour the library, renowned for its architectural beauty and priceless collection, and learn about its newest Web resource—a project called Teaching With Primary Sources Direct.

The free online database is a space where educators can create customizable professional development resources for educators in their school, district, or state. The TPS Direct project first received funding from Congress in 2005 and was developed over time through a partnership with 21 different colleges and universities. Elizabeth Ridgway, the Director of Educational Outreach at the Library, said the site’s main goal is to get teachers using primary source materials that will build students’ critical-thinking skills.

“We hope that these primary source documents don’t just answer questions students might have, but also spark questions they might want to discover,” said Ridgway.

Right now, The Library of Congress has more than 15 million digitized items online, and the TPS Direct site will show teachers how to integrate historic documents into their classroom lessons.

“By the fall, we are hoping to have every state on the site. And, we will add additional professional development exercises in the coming months, so that it serves as a living resource,” Ridgway said

From the site’s main page, educators can build their own activities using primary documents from a variety of subject areas. Each plan is downloaded into a PDF, but there will also be another option to export these files into an HTML version soon. Right now the site has approximately 12 hours of training for using primary documents, and the Library’s Education Outreach team will add more once the materials have passed review standards set by the National Society of Staff Development and the International Society for Technology in Education. Also, all professional development activities have been aligned with standards from the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

The library is encouraging educators to test-drive the features of the new resource and provide comments or feedback.

(Photo of NECC reception at the Library of Congress, by Tim Ebner.)

EDIT: The resources available through the Library of Congress are also aligned to the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.