A hand-colored Currier & Ives lithograph, circa. 1876.
Happy New Year! There is something sort of refreshing to me about saying those words. I have always fully embraced the notion that a new calendar year, psychologically speaking, offers a particular moment to reset, recommit and reprioritize. Whether you call them New Year’s Resolutions or, as one of my dear friends refers to them, New Year’s Notions, it is a worthwhile activity to make a list of things you would like to do, be or see in the 12 months ahead.
Last month, I shared a list of ideas for engaging with the Library during the holiday season. For January, I dug into some suggested Library resources that might align with topics or themes you are considering to enrich your 2018.
Once again, we invite you to share comments or stories if you use any of these ideas, and we welcome your own suggestions!
Research your family genealogy: I am lucky enough to have a great aunt and an uncle who have zealously documented my family history. Whether you are starting from scratch, or want to build on existing information, the Library of Congress has one of the world’s premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications. Get started here.
Refresh your citizenship muscles: The Library’s Congress.gov web site is the official resource for federal congressional information. On this site, you can track legislation, follow legislative activity of your U.S. senator or representative and watch videos of committee hearings. To get started, try these video tutorials on the different stages of the legislative process.
Read a classic: A resolution to “read more” or “read some of the classics I have never read” is one we heartily endorse at the Library of Congress. Here are some ideas from the Library’s “Books That Shaped America” project and exhibition. A confession: I grew up in Oklahoma, and I only read “The Grapes of Wrath” when we did this list several years ago. It is never too late! Next for me from the list is “How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, inspired by this wonderful Library exhibition from a year ago.
Gain perspective on weight loss: So, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s resolution list without addressing the issue of weight loss, an annual and often depressing part of the “new year, new me” discussion. But have you ever considered the history? The Library’s Science, Business and Technology Division is where books on weight loss live (A Letter on Corpulence from the 1860s, for example—yes! This is a thing!), and the division has two blogs about it that might give you some perspective, or at least a laugh or two, here and here.
Watch the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song: This is one of our favorite events each year, highlighting the life’s work of a popular song legend. Learn more about this year’s honoree, Tony Bennett, here, and tune in on January 12 to your local PBS station at 8 ET in most areas (check local listings) to view the Gershwin Prize concert celebrating Bennett.
Register for a reader card: For those of you in the D.C. area, make 2018 the year you register as a reader at the Library of Congress. Many people don’t know that anyone 16 and older can get a reader registration card and do research at the Library. Be in the know and do your next project in the stunning Main Reading Room. I guarantee it will inspire your thinking.
Read more with the kids: Encouraging children to read is a special passion of ours. Check out all the classic children’s books (more than 50 of them) on read.gov. From the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” these scans of original editions are a charming way to read online.
Master world geography: For 15 years, the Library’s Geography and Map Division hosted “Places in the News,” an online resource offering maps and historic background on, well, places in the news. Although the site wrapped up at the end of 2016, it is still a really neat entry point for exploring world geography.
Subscribe to the LCM: The Library of Congress’ bimonthly magazine, LCM, is a wonderful resource for learning more about the Library’s collections and programs. Some upcoming issues we have planned for you cover topics like building African-American history, hidden figures in women’s history and Broadway culture. Subscribe here, and review previous issues on topics including comic books, design and photography here.