BY BILL FERRIS

For this month’s random roundup, we’ve selected the Library of Congress, our nation’s storehouse of pretty much everything worth knowing. As you’d expect, a lot of great resources for teachers have been derived from the Library. See your tax dollars at work by reading the articles linked after the jump.

See snapshots of the Great Depression from the Library of Congress
As a reminder that things can always get worse, the Library of Congress has released several photos from the Great Depression on the photo-sharing site Flickr. The LOC has posted some of the most frequently requested photos from their collection as free digital images in their FSA/OWI Favorites set.

Discover a treasure trove of primary sources at the World Digital Library
A project of the Library of Congress and UNESCO, the [World Digital Library] provides access to high-quality digital scans of primary source materials from all over the world.

Everyday Mysteries from the Library of Congress
Ever wonder what’s the lifespan of a flea? Or how sunscreen works? Or who developed the Nobel-worthy invention of the TV dinner? Of course you haven’t, but that’s not the point…Like music and sports, science is a subject that lends itself especially well to this sort of trivia. You can find lots of it at Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress.

Learn more about every state in the Union with Explore the States
Are you tired of the same old boring state reports? Really, how much thought is involved in looking up the state bird of California (the California Quail — yawn). Would you like students to learn something new and interesting about the states? Explore the States on the Library of Congress’s America’s Story website could be just the answer to that need.

Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian
Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian from Northwestern University and the Library of Congress’s American Memory collection is a collection of over 2200 photographs of individuals from over 80 American Indian tribes taken by Edward Sherriff Curtis in the early 20th century. Curtis’s photography emphasizes the theme of native people as a “vanishing race,” a belief that was widely held in his time and that has contributed to damaging stereotypes since then.

Visit the Library of Congress online
The Library of Congress is an impressively gigantic organization. It occupies three large buildings on Capitol Hill. It contains more than 138 million items in its collection. It holds materials in 470 languages. And the Librarian of Congress has the very librarian-ish name James H. Billington. Impressive! Given these facts, is it any surprise that the Library of Congress’ website is also impressively gigantic? It’s easy to be overwhelmed just by looking at their home page, which seems heavy with the knowledge accumulated over this nation’s 232-year history.

View Library of Congress Photos on flickr
The Library of Congress apparently has a flickr account. They know how to use it, too – they’ve added a few thousand photos onto the interweb for your perusal (they must have shelled out for the pro account). This isn’t a static collection, either. The Library welcomes any tags and comments you have, and you ought to encourage your students to take them up on the offer.

The New Children’s Laureate Stinks Like Cheese, and I Mean That as a Compliment
It warms my heart to know that a guy who wrote a book called “The Stinky Cheese Man” can be a respected member of the literary community. The Library of Congress Center for the Book and the Children’s Book Council have named Jon Scieszka the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, which is a fancy way of saying “Children’s Laureate.”

Find Where the Government Keeps its Secrets
Have your history students poke around the Library of Congress site for state and check out the American Memory collection. USA.gov has lots of stuff like grant information and government news that your US government class would be interested in. You can also snoop around in the CIA World Factbook. Just don’t tell anybody what you see.

Photo credit: thudfactor on Flickr.

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