Tag Archives: library of congress

April is National Poetry Month…

Do you like poetry? Come up to the Library’s third floor to sample a new poem. We have a bucket filled with copies of poetry for you to enjoy.

Can’t visit the library in person? May I suggest visiting the Library of Congress online? The venerable LC has so many hidden treasures. This month I suggest looking at Poetry 180.

This project by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins offers a selection of poems for each day in the school year. Its target audience is high school students but it is open to everyone. It is a great way to discover new poets and their works:  “The Bagel” made me smile; every parent can identify with “To a Daughter Leaving Home.”

Poems are wonderful to read but they are even better when you hear them. So check out the LC’s Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. This amazing source has audio recordings of many famous poets as well as lectures about poetry. There is an interview with Robert Frost (1959) which includes him reading some of his work. And Archibald MacLeish reads and comments on his poetry in 1963. You also can hear Margaret Atwood, Alan Dugan (I just discovered his “On the Long Island Railroad System”), Joyce Carol Oates, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Pinsky and Gwendolyn Brooks.

The Poetry Foundation  is another great resource. You can listen to the works by such people as Dylan Thomas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, John Dunne,Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Frost   You can search the Foundation’s collection of poems. They have a section of poems under 25 lines  and another section of poems by literary forms and terms.

Glance at any of these sites and you just might be inspired to write a line or two of poetry yourself. Or you might discover a discover something special! I liked this one by the 17thcentury poet Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish, “An Apology for Her Poetry.” It ends with the lines:

“Consider, pray, gold hath no life therein.”

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services


Living Legends Chosen by the Library of Congress


Established during its Bicentennial celebration in 2000, the Library of Congress’ “Living Legend” honor is awarded by the Library’s curators and subject specialists to honor artists, writers, activists, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures and public servants who have “made significant contributions to America’s diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. The professional accomplishments of the Living Legends have enabled them to provide examples of personal excellence that have benefited others and enriched the nation in a variety of ways.”

The honorees display a broad range of talents: civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith, diplomat George Kennan, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, architect I.M. Pei first American woman in space Sally Ride, musicians Johnny Cash, Qunicy Jones, Stephen Sondheim and Yo-Yo Ma; Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron and Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird, and entertainers Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Martin Scorsese, Julia Child and Merce Cunningham.

If your curiosity is piqued, the entire list is here.  You can click on any name and get a quick bio about the person and related resources at the Library. Some of these related resources include a video transcript of news commentator and author Cokie Roberts at the National Book Festival; a selection of some of the online recordings collected by the folkolorist Alan Lomax and his family; and related to Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of children’s books, there is a link to some of the Library’s digitized children’s books.  You can actually look at the books (some of which date back to the early 19th century) by turning the pages.

If you prefer an actual hard copy for your information, there is a display of books by and about some of the honorees on the third floor of Syosset Library. Take a look. Get inspired!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Books that Shaped America

Celebration-of-the-BookLast year, as part of its Celebration of the Book, the Library of Congress released a list of books that “provoked thought, controversy and change.” The list started with 88 books but public discussion and suggestions has seen it grow to 100 titles.

Not all of them would be considered “the best books.” Nor are they the most popular. You might not even recognize some of the titles! And there are surely books that you feel should have been included but were not.

snowy daywherre the wild things areThere are political books, histories, westerns, schoolbooks, plays, poems, self-help and novels. Children’s books are represented by The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

The first book (the oldest one) is The Bay Psalm Book, a hymnal by Stephen Daye.  Dating back to 1640 it was the first book printed in what is now the United States.

our townYou probably have heard of, and perhaps even seen, Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 and continues to be performed.

american cookeryjoy of cookingTwo cookbooks published 135 years apart are on the list: Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796) which was the first cookbook printed in the United States and Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking (1931) which includes the author’s comments along with ingredient lists and directions.

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDale Carnegie’s self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, also makes the list. Works by poets Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost are included.

You can see the entire, varied list on

the Library of Congress site.

Syosset Public Library owns many of the books on the list.  But  if you feel drawn to buy some of the books, Amazon has them available as a special collection on its website in both print format and (where digital rights are available) for the Kindle.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services