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Librarian of Congress likely to make Huge Collections more Accessible in US

Hayden has made history as the Library’s first woman director as well as the first African-American

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The 14th Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, during her interview with the Associated Press after a ceremony at the Library of Congress, where she took the oath of office, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Hayden, a former Chicago children's librarian, is the first woman and African American to serve in the role. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) VOA
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WASHINGTON, Mar 4, 2017: As riots convulsed the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015, Carla Hayden kept a library in the heart of the chaos open. She says people in the neighborhood lined up outside the library to get in, even as a drugstore across the street was being looted and burned.

“The people did not touch the library, because it was the resource center in that community,” Hayden told VOA. “It’s beloved. It is protected. It is the place of hope in a community that needs hope.”

One year later, President Barack Obama elevated Hayden from her post as CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library to head the Library of Congress, which was established more than 200 years ago as the research arm for congressional officials.

She took over an institution that has been criticized, in recent years, for mismanagement, a lack of leadership, and falling behind in technological advances.

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Hayden’s focus is on upgrading the library’s technology to make the eclectic mix of 160 million items — from books and photos to sheet music and maps, even baseball cards — available to people everywhere.

Rare photo of unidentified African American soldier in US Civil War Union uniform with wife and two daughters between 1863 and 1865. (Library of Congress)
Rare photo of unidentified African American soldier in US Civil War Union uniform with wife and two daughters between 1863 and 1865. (Library of Congress) VOA

“I want the Library of Congress to open its arms to people around the world, to let people know it is available to them,” said Hayden, who colleagues say is warm and determined.

Library’s collections

Considered America’s library, the Library of Congress contains more than 30 million books and print materials from around the world in more than 450 languages. It houses a 1400s Gutenberg Bible, and owns the world’s largest comic book collection.

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] Music Division, Library of Congress. William Gottlieb, photographer.
Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] Music Division, Library of Congress. William Gottlieb, photographer. VOA

While the public can view materials in reading rooms, they cannot check them out. Because the materials can’t be checked out, Hayden wants to make the library materials, especially those online, more accessible and interactive by using the latest technologies.

“We have things on our website that bring the collections to people wherever they are,” she said. “They can download materials, and participate in a 3-D virtual reality tour of the library.”

Hayden sees herself as “getting on the train that had already been started in the 1990s,” when the library first began digitizing its items. She is now developing a digital strategy to significantly increase the amount of online content.

She says the volume of items the library receives is enormous, with at least 10,000 items added to the collections every day of the workweek.

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Connection with books, libraries

During an interview with VOA, Hayden, 64, held her favorite book, Bright April, which she recalls checking out of a library when she was about 8. It’s about a young African-American girl who is a Brownie, a younger level of a Girl Scout, and experiences racial prejudice.

Hayden says she identified with the moral of the story — that even though people are different on the outside, they are the same on the inside.

“I thought this little girl just reflected me,” she said.

Her love for that book, and many others, propelled Hayden to become a children’s librarian. She also became chief librarian for Chicago’s public library and the president of the American Library Association. By working in libraries with diverse patrons, she learned that it’s important to “recognize the cultural heritage of the neighborhoods.”

Traveling exhibits

Besides increasing online services, Hayden wants to make Library of Congress materials available through traveling exhibits, especially beyond city limits.

“The library is working on re-establishing a mobile service, taking an 18-wheeler truck and loading it up with facsimiles, sometimes with electronic information and devices, to help people connect with the Library of Congress directly,” she said.

Uncle Sam Poster "I want you for U.S. Army: nearest recruiting station" (Artist: James Montgomery Flagg, Published c1917)
Uncle Sam Poster “I want you for U.S. Army: nearest recruiting station” (Artist: James Montgomery Flagg, Published c1917) VOA

Hayden has a proven record of expanding outreach programs and technology in libraries.

More than 20 years ago, she paved the way for Baltimore’s public library system to become the first in Maryland to provide internet access.

Now she wants to ensure that millions of items in the world’s biggest library are accessible to everyone.(VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)