‘Gateway’ exhibit has strong turnout

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jasmyn Bowie (front), Omarion Ramsey and Joanne Bland take a little bit of time out of their Tuesday afternoon to visit the Library of Congress: Gateway to Knowledge parked beside the Selma Interpretive Center. The exhibt will be available today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- Chris Wasson

By Robert Hudson

The Selma Times-Journal

The city of Selma is known for its history, but yesterday the Library of Congress brought a little history of its own to town.

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The Library of Congress’ traveling exhibition, “Gateway to Knowledge,” is parked next to the Selma Interpretive Center located at 25 Broad St. as a part of its two-day stop in Selma.

The free exhibit is housed in a specially designed 18-wheeler and will resume today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re traveling the country and our goal is to share with people what the Library of Congress is and all the amazing resources that are available, whether you visit it in person or you use the website,” said Abigail Van Gelder, field manager with MRA experiential tours and equipment.

The Library of Congress was established in 1800 and is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It also serves as the research arm of Congress.

The travelling exhibit features reproductions and background videos on the Waldseemuller Map, which was the first ever to use the word “America,” and a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence among others.

Van Gelder said it’s important to show people what the Library of Congress, which has 145 million items including books, photographs and sound recordings, has to offer.

“The exhibit is important for people to come and see because they pay for the Library of Congress. It’s your library and you should use it,” she said. “This is a way to see a little bit deeper into what resources are available there.”

Those who toured the exhibit were intrigued by what they saw.

“It’s nice to be able to see these things because I’ll probably never go to Washington,” said Marilyn Callaway. “It really brings history to life.”

Karen Grimes, a librarian at Five Points and Salem elementary schools in Orrville, said the exhibit is a great opportunity to gather some useful information as the start of school approaches.

“This is a great opportunity for anybody, especially for me since I’m a librarian,” said Grimes. “I hope to take back some of the knowledge learned here today to share with my students.”

The exhibit has already made stops in New Orleans, Pensacola and Dothan, and will stop at more than 50 other sites in states across the Midwest and South this year.