LOC looks to Microsoft to make documents interactive

The Library of Congress has chosen Microsoft to provide an initial grant of technology, services and funding worth upward of $3 million to enhance the online accessibility and interactivity of about 800 of the library’s prominent holdings.

The library announced that it had reached a nonexclusive agreement to use Microsoft software to power a series of new search and viewing tools that will be launched this year to improve accessibility and interactivity. As part of the program, new kiosks at library buildings that highlight featured documents will run on Microsoft Vista software, and Microsoft Silverlight will help power the library’s upcoming launch of its new Web site, MyLOC.gov, where users can access and personalize similar interactive materials.

The “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition, which opened Dec. 13, debuted the new technology. Throughout this year, the library plans to make new holdings interactive, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, 1507 Waldseemüller World Map that was first to use the word “America,” and original volumes from Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, said library spokesman Matt Raymond.

“This is really a quantum leap for the library,” he said, emphasizing the technical capabilities of the new initiative.

Raymond said the library and Microsoft had signed the cooperative agreement a few days ago after several months of discussion. The overall cooperative project is likely to be worth about $22 million, and library officials say they may also work with other companies as the project progresses.

Keith Hurwitz, Microsoft’s public-sector platform strategy adviser, said the project presents a unique opportunity for the company to help the library improve accessibility while also showcasing the company’s technology.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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