The Library of Congress is putting our historical treasures online
The Library of Congress is putting our historical treasures online
3:14

The Library of Congress is putting our historical treasures online

Tech Industry
This is the Library of Congress, and as its name suggests, it was established in 1800 to serve as the research library for members of Congress. Its three buildings are home to more than 170 million items and 826 miles of shelves. But you don't need to actually walk in its three story reading room to check out the library's treasure trove. For more than two decades, the library has been digitizing everything it can and sharing it on the Internet. Carla Hayden is in charge of it all. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, and it has the largest collection of photographs, the largest collection of maps, the largest collection of comic books, the largest collection of bibles. And so looking at how you make sure that the items are available in different formats also conserved. Here's just some of the map collection. Not all of it is flat. They used to be behind large Plexiglass that everybody looked at on the sixth floor. And then they said, yeah, move them back down here. Here's a relief map of Utah Beach on the coast of France. It was created by the US Navy in 1944 to help General Eisenhower plan the invasion of Normandy. Here's the same map online. So we're scanning at 300 dpi as a rule in general. Often times somebody might suggest a higher dpi. Natural scanned in order to make super high resolution images in several formats. Nearly 50,000 new prints and photographs are added to an online library every year. That includes 50 to 100 posters a day. Like this one, for the battle of bill Wild West show, [UNKNOWN] 1895 Some photos digitized decades ago are back under more powerful scanners. Now able to capture the finest details of Depression-era photos. This was the digital file we had that was kind of worn back in the early 1990s. And this is the full resolution of that image as it exists now. You can definitely make out US Food and Drug Administration, but it's hard to see any of the details of What is this person reading, what is on the table there. But the resolution that we can get now, you can't see a lot more of what's going on. On average, the library adds 10,000 new items to its collections a day. For help cataloguing handwritten material, the library is turning to volunteers to help transcribe letters and diaries. The Library of Congress is joining with other institutions that have a great number of historic documents to be transcribed to open it up to have volunteers to help us with that. And so our program is called By the People. We started with the letters to Abraham Lincoln. Here's the diary of Civil War nurse, and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton. Anyone can log on and start transcribing. When you put these things online, you are really expanding the reach. And so this is going to be a continuing effort becasue history never stops. Hedon says it's all part of the library's renewed mission. To engage, inspire and inform Congress and the American public.

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