Kids & Family at the Library of Congress website

Library of Congress home page

Library of Congress home page

As I have written before, the Library of Congress website contains such a wealth of information that it will take multiple posts even to begin to do it justice.

Even the Kids & Family page is difficult to describe fully. It comprises links to 14 other pages, some intended especially for young readers and others not.

The link to it on the library’s home page does not stand out. It is on the line of links below the 9 thumbnails.

Pages intended for young readers

Library of Congress, America's Library

America’s Library home page

The Young Readers Center is not a web-based collection. It is a room on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. It is open Monday through Friday except on national holidays.

Among other programs, it offers weekly story time for infants and toddlers.

There are, however, links to books and related information for kids, teens, adults, and educators & parents. The links go to sections of Read.gov.

Read.gov is intended for readers of all ages, but it has a special section for young readers. The link from the Kids & Families page goes there directly. Besides books the Library of Congress has digitized, the page has reading lists on several topics. It advises visitors to look for them at their local library.

America’s Library was designed especially for young people. The welcome page mentions fun and entertainment first and learning as a hoped-for byproduct. The Kids & Families page links to its home page, which has five colorful links:

  • Meet Amazing Americans
  • Jump Back in Time
  • Explore the States
  • Join America at Play
  • See, Hear, and Sing

Each of these pages features at least one game or quiz question that leads to short articles and audiovisual files.

I’m not sure that Everyday Mysteries is specifically intended for children, but children will certainly enjoy it. It considers such questions as why a camel has a hump or why it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. All of these questions and the answers are based on questions people have asked the librarians at Science Reference Services.

Pages not specifically intended for young readers

The Library of Congress established the Center for the Book in 1984 and established affiliate centers in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. The centers have a two-fold mission:

  • to call attention to the importance of reading, literacy, libraries, and especially book
  • to highlight each area’s literary heritage

The Center for the Book has held the National Book Festival since 2001. It draws huge crowds. The Book Festival Webcasts so far comprises 594 webcasts of speeches given by authors. I recognize Judy Blume on the first page, but it is not obvious how to search for speeches by children’s authors.

Today in History tells of events that happened on whatever day you happen to search. I looked on October 8, the anniversary of devastating fires in Peshtigo, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois, and other towns in Wisconsin and Michigan in 1871.

On that date in 1862, Union forces won the Battle of Perryville, insuring that Kentucky would remain in the Union. There are also tabs for “Yesterday” and “Tomorrow.” Children younger than teenagers may find the reading level too difficult.

Local Legacies is a part of the American Folk Life Center created in 2000. It highlights 1300 places and annual events from all 50 states.

Unfortunately, it appears not to have been updated since then. Former Congressman Mel Watt’s description of Old Salem in North Carolina describes something that “will happen” in 2000.

National Jukebox: Historical Recordings from the Library of Congress. When first launched, it included more than 10,000 acoustic records issued between 1901 and 1925 by the Victor Talking Machine Company, now owned by Sony Music Entertainment.

They’re all still under copyright, and probably no part of copyright law is as murky as sound recordings. But Sony has granted the Library a license to stream the records without charge. As the collection increases, it will add recordings made by other companies, such as Columbia, now owned by Sony.

Oddly enough for a site recommended for children, it comes with the warning that some of the recordings may contain offensive language.

Library of Congress, Places in the News

Places in the News

Places in History and Places in the News are collections of maps with fairly extensive written commentary.

The Veterans History Project holds a wealth of audio, video, manuscripts, and photos devoted to individual veterans from World War I and later wars.

I browsed a random letter of the alphabet and picked a veteran with a digital collection. It includes an oral history interview, a typewritten document, digitized photographs, and a floppy disk with multiple types of files. Pages for other veterans may include additional kinds of resources.

I suppose children like to view and listen to information about their own relatives.

American Memory and Performing Arts Encyclopedia are each too rich and varied to describe briefly.


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