Programming with Library of Congress Digital Collections : Literature
This guide is designed to help all types of libraries explore primary sources available from the Library of Congress online collection, and to connect with their communities through programming and educational opportunities.
Literature is how we artistically express ourselves through language and writing.
Literature takes the form of poetry, prose, drama, memoirs, etc. In academic context, literature often refers to the published research of a field. For example in history, there is a body of literature related to Abraham Lincoln or in medicine there is a body of literature related to cancer.
The Library of Congress has a wide variety of primary sources related to the field of literature. The plays of Zora Neale Hurston, writings of Walt Whitman, Native American Poets, and children's books are all represented across the collections.
Highlighted Collection Title Goes Here
The Rare Books Selections collection contains some of what the Library of Congress considers the most interesting and important items in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division. Items in the digitized collection include the Gutenberg Bible, medieval manuscripts, cooking books, children's literature, medicine, and many other topics. The selections span multiple countries and languages with the oldest item being a digitized manuscript, Exposicio Mistica Super Exod[um], in Latin, published around 1150 in Germany. The collection covers over a 1000 years of printed literature and documents changes in writing and publishing styles. From early, handwritten and hand illustrated manuscripts to the printing press.
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
Title page of The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter. Published by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1904. The Library of Congress received two copies on September 30, 1904 and registered a copyright entry for the title on July 27, 1904.
The Book of the Cat: With Facsimiles of Drawings in Colour
Page from the book, The Book of the Cat: With Facsimiles of Drawings in Colourwith illustrations by Elisabeth F. Bonsall and stories and verses by Mabel Humphreys. Published by Frederick A. Stokes and Company Publishers in October 1903. The Library of Congress received two copies on November 2, 1903 and copyright was registered on October 22, 1903.
A Visit From Saint Nicholas
Page from A Visit From Saint Nicholasby Clement Clarke Moore and illustrated by Felix O. C. Darley. Nathaniel Orr was the engraver for the text. An engraver carved out templates from wood or metal that could be soaked in ink and pressed on paper as part of the printing process. This edition of A Visit From Saint Nicholas was published by the firm James G. Gregory in 1862.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul
Discuss the history of printing and/or have a hand's on do-it-yourself printing exercise. For the early part of the program use materials from the Rare Books Selections to talk about the early methods of printing such as Illuminated Manuscripts, Wood Block Printing, Engraving Printing, the Gutenberg Press, etc.. Discussion can also cover how the Gutenberg Press and further modern printing techniques made reading materials more accessible and affordable.
For a DIY program use rubber stamps to mimic the effect of wood block or engraving printing. You can then use an ink and roller, or other impressionable surface to "roll print" on paper. An alternative would be to combine rubber stamps and stencils to handwrite or illustrate a title page for your book. For example: "Walt's Book" by Walt Whitman and then add a design to it.
For this program outline what an Almanack (almanac) is and how it is typically used. Utilizing one of the Almanacks in the Rare Books Selections collection look at the type of data that is included and see if you can find any documentation online to compare that actual data on that date. As an alternative, compare an almanack in the Rare Books Selections to a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac published in the last twenty years. What information in the almanacks is similar, what is different?
Weather fun: Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Data Online tool, compare weather data in The Old Farmer's Almanac to the actual weather data for a specific time period. Have participants determine if the almanac accurately predicted the weather. The same exercise could be conducted to compare sunrise and sunset data.
Living Nations, Living Words is the signature project of Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. It contains audio recording of 47 contemporary Native American poets reading and providing commentary on an original poem. The aim of the project is to show through poetry that Native people have strong roots in the United States.
Programming ideas for the collection include the following:
reading the poem, then listening to the poet read the poem and discussing the participants reactions to the two different versions.
listening to the poem and discussing the meaning of the poem as a group, then listening to the poet's commentary on the poem and discussing if there is a change in how the group perceives the meaning of the poem or the intent/emotions behind it.
listening to the poem and discussing what components make a poem, then have the group try to write their own poem.
utilizing the poem and commentary as a way to discuss Native American history
Rights and Access:The Library of Congress asks that when utilizing this collection approach the materials in it with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Users are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.
The Library of Congress has obtained permissions to use the items in the Living Nations, Living Words digital collection for educational and research purposes. The copyright remains with the creator and it is up to the user to assess copyright or other use restrictions and obtain use permission when necessary.
The Children's Book Selections collection contain materials published in the United States and England prior to 1924 and are in the public domain. These books includes classics and less well-known children's literature. Programs could include comparing illustrations in children's books from different eras, and different editions of titles such as The Wizard of Oz, Beatrix Potter, and Mother Goose.
Red Riding Hood (1863) by Lydia L.A. Very and published by L. Prang & Co. of Boston, Ma.
Statement on Potentially Harmful Content and Fair Use
Statement on Potentially Harmful Content
Some of the materials presented in this guide may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved by the Library of Congress and presented here for their historical significance.
Digitized primary sources in the Library's collection each include a "Rights and Access" or "Rights Advisory" statement within the catalog information. These can help users determine whether the item is in the public domain or whether there are copyright restrictions. For more information about the Library of Congress' policy on Copyrights and Primary Sources visit the website.