Microsoft’s Gift to Library of Congress Makes Historical Collections More Accessible to American Classrooms

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 1999 — The Library of Congress, America’s oldest cultural institution, houses the world’s greatest accumulation of knowledge–more than 114 million items altogether. A gift of $388,000 in cash and software from Microsoft is helping to transform this national treasure into a technological wonder by making the Library’s collections more accessible via the Internet to educators and students across the country.

For Bob Herbold, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, attending today’s opening of the renovated National Digital Library Learning Center was a double thrill. Not only was Herbold there representing Microsoft, he is also on the Library’s James Madison Council and so has a personal connection to the Center. During his remarks, Herbold reinforced Microsoft’s commitment to further empower educators and their students by helping to make it easy for them to access the Library’s rich array of historical information with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, thanked Microsoft for helping the Library make its online collections as “useful to students and educators as possible.” Dr. Billington added, “Microsoft’s gift gives the Library a much-needed facility to train educators on the use of primary sources in the classroom.”

With more than 50 online collections available to educators, students and the general public, the Center is a leading provider of historical content on the Internet. American Memory, a series of collections representing people and events that have changed the course of history, are also accessible through the National Digital Library Learning Center. These collections include such things as Francis Scott Key’s handwritten text of the Star-Spangled Banner, the Library’s collection of more than 650 daguerreotypes taken between 1839 and 1864, and “Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters During WW II.”

Other collections include many more digitized documents, manuscripts, films, photographs, sound recordings and maps. Internet users will also have access to 1.5 million multimedia files, with three million more already in production.

Each year since 1994, the National Digital Library Visitors Center has provided online demonstrations of the Library’s Internet resources and limited training to almost 8,000 teachers, students, librarians, scholars, technologists and members of the public. Microsoft’s gift will enable the Visitors’ Center to expand its service as a state-of-the-art training facility.

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