Library of Congress, Microsoft Announce Agreement to Support New Interactive Experience for Visitors

WASHINGTON, D.C., and REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 10, 2008 — The Library of Congress and Microsoft Corp. have signed a cooperative agreement that will change the way visitors experience U.S. history. The joint technology innovation effort between the Library and Microsoft will electronically expose the Library’s immense collection of historical artifacts to patrons visiting the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., and will allow unparalleled and immersive interactive experiences that will bring the Library’s vast historical collections and exhibits to life onsite and online through the upcoming Web site.

Through the Microsoft investment of funding, software and technology expertise, training and support services, the Library will deliver its New Visitors Experience through a complex technology system with interactive kiosks in the Jefferson Building as well as rich Internet applications delivered through a robust Web infrastructure.

“Microsoft is helping to put a vast array of the Library’s unparalleled educational resources literally at the fingertips of students and lifelong learners alike, both onsite at the Library of Congress and virtually through the Web,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “The Library of Congress and the causes of inspiration and creativity will benefit immensely from this act of generosity and expertise.”

“Technology can play such a meaningful role in facilitating the learning and discovery process for people of all ages,” said Curt Kolcun, vice president of the Federal Division at Microsoft. “This relationship between the Library and Microsoft will help citizens explore the Library’s — and our nation’s — treasure trove of historical memorabilia in unprecedented ways.”

Passport to Knowledge

The Library of Congress will offer new interactive galleries on site via electronic kiosks running on Windows Vista and on their Web site using Microsoft Silverlight to bring to life the world’s largest collection of knowledge, culture and creativity.

New interactive galleries will bring to life the world’s largest collection of knowledge, culture and creativity, with virtual hands-on interaction with items such as the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, the 1507 Waldseemüller world map that first used the word “America,” and original volumes from Thomas Jefferson’s library. Key to these experiences will be interactive presentation software for kiosks running on Windows Vista and its Web equivalent, built utilizing Microsoft Silverlight. Together these technologies will enable incredible fidelity between the onsite and online experiences.

A new “Passport to Knowledge,” with a unique bar code linked to an online account, will allow visitors to bookmark areas of interest that can later be accessed and explored in depth at the upcoming Web site. “Knowledge Quest,” a game-based learning activity, will send visitors onsite and online searching for clues in the art and artifacts of the Library. Teachers will also have access to new educational resources.

The new experience for visitors, both onsite and online, will be powered by Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Web content management software.

The agreement is part of a larger effort to transform the public spaces of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building into an experience that combines unique artifacts with cutting-edge technology and invites visitors to explore the collections in engaging new ways, thanks to Microsoft Silverlight. The Library’s new “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition, which opened Dec. 13, offers a sampling of the new experience. More exhibits and enhancements, including personalized Web sites at, are scheduled to debut in spring 2008.

“Later this spring, when we open the bronze doors of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, we will unleash new ways to tap into the knowledge housed here,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, chief operating officer of the Library of Congress. “Through this new experience, a wealth of information will be accessible as never before.”

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its vast collections of books, manuscripts, films, and art objects from all over the globe. The Library’s award-winning Web site is at More information about the agreement can be found online at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at

Related Posts