Saturday, August 21, 1999

Librarian of Congress is Convocation Speaker at WC This Fall

Chestertown, MD — After a week of classes that begins on August 30, Washington College officially launches its new academic year on Thursday, September 9th with an evening Fall Convocation featuring the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington.

Convocation begins at 7:30 p.m. in Tawes Theatre of the Gibson Performing Arts Center, and the public is cordially invited.

The Library of Congress, which celebrates its bicentennial in the year 2000, holds more than 115 million items in nearly every known language and format, from ancient Chinese woodblock prints to microchips. It holds the manuscript collections of 23 American presidents and the world’s largest collections of books, maps, music, and movies.

Dr. Billington is leading a major effort to direct the collected knowledge of the Library into the nation’s educational system. Millions of items for the Library’s core collections are now available for viewing on the World Wide Web. By early in the next century, the American Memory project will be disseminating the Library’s core collections in digitized form to every school and library in the country.

Dr. Billington is receiving the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his work at the Library and as an historian of Russian culture. He is the author of The Icon and the Axe, an interpretive history of Russian culture; Russia Transformed: Breakthrough to Hope, his eyewitness account of the failed coup attempt in 1991; and The Face of Russia, the companion book to the television series he wrote and narrated for airing on PBS. In 1992, he arranged and brought to the Library of Congress the first exhibition ever drawn from secret Soviet archives.

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