The C-SPAN original documentary, “Behind the Scenes at The Library of Congress: The Largest Library in the World,” will premier at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on C-SPAN, C-SPAN3 and on live-streaming video. For preview clips and more information about The Library of Congress, visit the documentary’s website.
In advance of the program’s premiere on July 18, C-SPAN viewers have an opportunity to see short sections of the program. Statistics about the library, Maps from World War II, Hyperspectral Imaging, Personal Papers of famous people, Reading Room and Great Hall architecture
The documentary features a comprehensive interview with James Hadley Billington, the 13th Librarian of the United States Congress. recorded in his ‘ceremonial office’ in the Jefferson Building – the “true home” of the Library of Congress and an American architectural icon .
One of the commentators noted particulrly in the introduction to the piece what he believes may be its most significant greatest feature, appreciable to those who may never set foot within it: “The free availability of information in a democracy is something to be celebrated and I think that comes through very democratically in the building.”
Commemorating the Library’s 211-year history and the vast scope of its collection, the film will closely examine the breadth and depth of this national treasure:
[This “The Library of Congress” original C-SPAN documentary] reveals details of:
- The Great Hall, Reading Room , and exterior of the Jefferson Building
- Some of the treasures among its books, maps, photos, and presidential papers
- The History of the Library of Congress and its Jefferson Building
- The Jefferson Library and other treasures of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division
- The painstaking care of the Library’s collections
- The use of technology to reveal new information about historical documents
Home to the largest map collection in the world, The Library of Congress features 13 miles of shelving, which contain rare documents, photographs, audio and video materials as well as book, with 14 million pictures, 65,000 books and documents relating to President George Washington and 27,000 documents and books relating to President Thomas Jefferson — not only keeping history alive to inspire each new generation, but acting as the repository for accurate informaion of use to lawmakers since it was founded in 1800:
Congress. Housed in the U.S. Capitol, the library was destroyed in 1814 when British soldiers burned the building. Hearing of the fire, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell Congress his book collection. After much debate, Congress agreed to buy the collection for just under $24,000. In 1851, another fire destroyed 2/3 of the library’s holdings. In 1870, Congress passed copyright legislation that required two copies of every book published be sent to the Library of Congress.
Another commentator pointed to the fact that Democracy and reading and knowledge are inextricably linked — and which predates the Library of Congress — and this is manifested through these archives that testify to the respect for the written word. As James Billington noted, “We are the only world civilization whose institutions were entirely created in the age of print.”
The need for knowledge and the love of books harkens back to early civilizations, and underscores the words of Thomas Jefferson: “Here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead,nor tolerate any error, so long as reason is left free to combat it.” Jefferson beieved in the inherent goodness and perfectability of humankind, and in the power of man as developed through the power of ideas and the power of language and imagination:
Enlighten the people generally
and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind
will fade like evil spirits at the dawn of day
Founded in 1800 and sitting adjacent to the U.S. Capitol in the heart of America’s capital city, the Library of Congress has collected nearly 150 million items. This documentary explores the Library’s 211-year history and the scope of its collection. Tour the library with us and:
Learn the history of the institution as you tour the Library’s iconic Jefferson Building. See the treasures found in its collections of rare books, photos, and maps, as well as the thousands of pages of presidential and personal papers.
Learn how the library uses technolgy to preserve its holdings and expand public access to them.
Premieres tonight, 8 p.m. ET on C-SPAN, C-SPAN3, and c-span.org.
Take advantage of the vast archival collection available to the public at no charge, as a public service of American Cable Companies, at the C-SPAN websites and the website for C-SPAN’s BookTV — 48 hours of non=fiction books, from 8 AM every Saturday until 8 AM every Monday.