Library of Congress Visitor Experience
LocationJefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
The Visitor Experience at the Library of Congress is the result of an unprecedented institutional initiative in which technology interconnects every interpretive offering on view in the library with a suite of tools for enhanced observation, personalization, and collection of objects for later retrieval online. Every element in the Visitor Experience is infused with state-of-the-art exhibitry, immersive audiovisual installations, and rich interactives that blend curatorial expertise with innovative technology. The interactive installations capitalize on the significant treasures and exceptional architecture of the Jefferson Building to enlighten, inspire, and encourage visitors to continue their explorations at home after their visit. From interactive document viewers to collections browsers and life-size interactive projections, the visual language of the designs communicates the stature of the institution and its responsiveness to the public it serves.
Each interactive installation allows visitors to explore artifacts in a highly detailed manner. Document viewers, collections browsers, life-size interactive projections integrate high-resolution artifact images with transcription and magnification tools, as well as audio insights from the library’s curators. The visual language communicates the stature of the institution and its responsiveness to the public. Intuitive interfaces make interpretive information and images easy to access; the consistency of interface elements across the galleries ensures that visitors can quickly interact with content as they move from area to area, and ultimately online, to their personalized myloc.gov Web page.
Press & AwardsPrint Magazine, Creativity & Commerce, Honorable Mention 2009AIGA Annual Design Competition, Informing, 2009Self Service Excellence Awards, Best of Show, 2009Self Service Excellence Awards, Best Other Deployment, 2009American Association of Museums Muse Awards, Bronze, Interactive Kiosks, 2009
Library of Congress New Visitor Experience provides a rich and multi-functional experience with well researched content that connect the historic artifact, the people and the context. The interactive wall is not only innovative and engaging and makes users to have lots of fun and excitement but also beautifully designed and enables users to gain enough knowledge and information about the library.“The Great Library Jefferson Began, and How It Grew,” The New York Times, Charles McGrath, January 15, 2009
And the library may be the most technologically enhanced tourist site in Washington. There are computer kiosks everywhere, like giant iPhone screens. Touch one, and a detail of the building or one of Jefferson’s books or even his rough draft of the Declaration of Independence is in front of you; touch it again for a close-up, a translation or an explanation. Using a little passport you are issued on entering, part of the official ‘Library of Congress experience,’ you can even save some of these details for further study on your home computer. The library’s Web site (loc.gov) is so extensive and elaborate that, had I only known, I could have toured the whole place without ever leaving home.HOW, Interactive Design Awards, Best of Show, 2009
With dozens of kiosks and and other interactive elements, Second Story Interactive Studios linked every department at the Library and made the historical content more engaging for visitors. You can stand in front of a spiral bookcase re-creating Thomas Jefferson’s library and page through one of the tomes on a touch screen. Or walk up to a 16-foot-wide interactive wall and watch the founding documents come alive.“Big Fun at the Library of Congress,” Orange County Register, Dena Bunis, April 13, 2008
What the curators of the new ‘Creating the United States’ exhibit have done is put this fragile document on display in a low-lit glass case. Then next to it is an oversize touch screen where visitors can literally scroll a cursor down over it and see the kinds of cross outs and rewrites...You can look at it in Jefferson’s hand and also see a typed version of it superimposed on top of the document.“We Hold These Truths to Be User-Accessible and in Hypertext,” The New York Times, Edward Rothstein, April 12, 2008
Now touch-screen kiosks with the power to magnify images of objects, translate text and point to other information sources are found throughout the library’s exhibition spaces. Two kiosks offer the chance to look more closely at the library’s Gutenberg Bible and examine selected pages; others explain the mythological and literary references in the ornaments of the Italian Renaissance-style Jefferson Building. The exhibition ‘Thomas Jefferson’s Library’ also uses such kiosks to help look inside a few 18th-century books. And yes, these kiosks are what allowed me to see the changes in the Declaration so clearly, even identifying the different handwriting on the document.“Re-Created Library Speaks Volumes About Jefferson,” Washington Post, Amy Orndorff, April 11, 2008
The precious books are displayed behind glass for their protection, but visitors can use touch-screen technology to move digitally from page to page.“Library of Congress Exhibit Shows Future of Digital Archives,” Ars Technica, John Stokes, April 11, 2008
Tomorrow, the Library of Congress kicks off a celebration to mark the launch of the ‘Library of Congress Experience,’ an interactive exhibit with an online component that lets Internet users interact with primary sources from American history. On interactive display via touchscreen kiosks are books from Thomas Jefferson’s library, which have been captured in high resolution and will be available for page-by-page browsing, annotated maps from the Age of Discovery, and objects from the Americas before Columbus.“Library of Congress Opening Anew Saturday,” DCist, Ben Schuman Stoler, April 11, 2008
After seeing the new exhibits and visitor ‘Experience,’ we are happy to say that the Library of Congress has made it fully into the 21st century...Just off of the Great Hall, you can use one of the interactive kiosks to page through the LoC’s collection of rare bibles, which includes far more than their most hyped 14th century bibles, the Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz...[T]he new LoC is vastly improved and its changes should bring it on par with the Smithsonians and other D.C. must-see museums.“Technology Allows Close Perusal of the Declaration of Independence,” PC World, Grant Cross, April 9, 2008
Visitors can scroll through the Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz on touchscreens after looking at the actual bibles behind glass. And visitors can walk among Jefferson’s library collection and take a closer look at the books on the touchscreen monitors.“Thomas Jefferson’s Library at the Library of Congress,” Washingtonian.com, Susan Davidson, April 7, 2008
Beginning April 12, the library will be more user-friendly as interactive exhibits devoted to the Great Hall, the creation of the United States, and Jefferson’s library open to the public. Visitors, on foot and online, will be able to ‘flip’ the pages of documents too precious to be touched by hand—such as the Gutenberg Bible and a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence with Jefferson’s handwritten edits visible.
© 2015 Second Story, Inc.
- Project Overview
- Bible Collection
- Creating the U.S. Interactives
- Creating the U.S. Overture
- Jefferson & the Library of Congress
- Jefferson’s Library Book Explorer
- The Jefferson Building
- Welcome Desk Screens
- Early Americas Overture Video
- Recording History
- The Conquest of Mexico
- The Heavens and the Earth