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Celebrating 25 Years

Library of Congress taps Silverlight to enhance access

By Ben Bain and Trudy Walsh

The Library of Congress has signed an agreement with Microsoft to make the library’s collection of historical artifacts more immediately available, both to online visitors and the 2 million people each year who come to the library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington.

Microsoft will provide an initial grant of technology, services and funding worth more than $3 million to enhance the online accessibility and interactivity of about 800 of the Library of Congress’ prominent holdings.

Library officials said they plan to launch a series of new library search and viewing tools this year. As part of the program, new kiosks that highlight featured documents at the library will run on Microsoft Vista software.

Microsoft Silverlight, a graphical browser plug-in, will help power the library’s new Web site, www.myloc.gov, where users will be able to access and personalize interactive materials.

The technology debuted with the “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition Dec. 13. The library plans to make new holdings interactive with the new program, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, the 1507 Waldseem ller World Map that first used the word “America” and original volumes from Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, said library spokesman Matt Raymond.

“This is really a quantum leap for the library,” Raymond said.