On Thursday, January 10, the Library of Congress announced exciting news: it will be partnering with Microsoft to create interactive exhibits and to allow online visitors to take “virtual tours” of exhibits of the user’s choice! Imagine looking at the Gutenberg Bible or a draft of the Declaration of Independence from the comfort of your own home! The service is designed to enhance experiences for people who visit the LOC in person as well as via the world wide web. For more information, surf over to this story at PC World; I am also providing the original press relase from the Library of Congress that was posted this past Thursday:
The Library of Congress and Microsoft Corp. have signed a cooperative agreement that will change the way Library visitors experience history. The joint technology initiative will electronically deliver the Library’s immense collection of historical artifacts to patrons visiting its Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., and will allow unparalleled and immersive interactive experiences that will bring the institution’s vast historical collections and exhibits to life–on-site and online–through the upcoming myloc.gov Web site.
Through Microsoft’s investment of funding, software, technological expertise, training and support services, the Library will deliver a new experience to its visitors through interactive kiosks within the Jefferson Building as well as through 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 on-site 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 of Microsoft Federal. “This partnership between the Library and Microsoft will help citizens explore the Library’s–and our nation’s–historical treasures in unprecedented ways.”
New interactive galleries will bring to life the world’s largest collection of knowledge, culture and creativity, with virtual hands-on interaction with such items 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 personal library. Key to these experiences will be interactive presentation software for kiosks using Microsoft technologies that will offer incredible fidelity between the on-site and online experiences.
A new “Passport to Knowledge,” with a unique barcode 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 myloc.gov Web site. “Knowledge Quest,” a game-based learning activity, will send visitors on-site 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 on-site and online, will be powered by Microsoft Web and 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. The Library’s new exhibition “Exploring the Early Americas,” which opened Dec. 13, offers a sampling of the new experience. More exhibits and enhancements, including personalized Web sites at myloc.gov, are scheduled to debut later in 2008.
“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 Library of Congress Chief Operating Officer Jo Ann Jenkins. “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 www.loc.gov.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.