Monday, March 30, 2009

Library of Congress embraces YouTube, iTunes

The US Library of Congress has begun uploading its audio archives to iTunes, and it will soon begin to post videos on YouTube, in an effort to make its materials easier for the public to access.

The library already offers the materials at its own Web site,, and through interactive exhibitions on its new, personalized Web site at, but the expansion to YouTube and Apple's iTunes is part of the library's efforts to make its 15.3 million digital items more accessible, said Matt Raymond, the library's director of communications.

"Our broad strategy is to 'fish where the fish are,' and to use the sites that give our content added value - in the case of iTunes, ubiquity, portability, etc.," Raymond said in an email.

Among the items Web surfers can expect on iTunes and YouTube are 100-year-old films from Thomas Edison's studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the library's holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of President Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.

The library also has a Twitter stream, and library information is available on more than 30 RSS feeds and email alert services. The library also launched one of the first blogs from a federal agency.

Asked why the library chose YouTube and iTunes, Raymond said , "The library is in an exploration stage with these new media distribution channels," Springer added. "These services are a place to start learning, but our agreements are not exclusive, so other services are certainly possible in the future."

On Thursday, the US General Services Administration announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media, library officials said. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers.

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