Congressman Gregg Harper to conduct live interview of World War II veteran Earl Derrington at first-ever Mississippi Book Festival
Library of Congress to Showcase Historic Mississippi Recordings
At the first-ever Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 22nd, one of the highlights of the day will be a live interview conducted by Mississippi’s own U.S. Congressman Gregg Harper, vice chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress. Harper explained, “It is such an honor for me to serve on the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, and I am so excited that the Dr. James Billington has chosen to send a Library team from Washington, DC be a part of this inaugural event in Mississippi! I will have the great honor of conducting an interview of decorated, ex-POW and World War II veteran Earl Derrington at 11:30 am on Saturday at the Mississippi Capitol building in Jackson. Please join me as visitors are welcome to attend this event.”
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. In addition to being able to witness the interview by Congressman Harper, Library of Congress staff will demonstrate for festivalgoers how to participate in this most extensive oral-history project in the United States by interviewing friends, family, coworkers and others who served in the U.S. military and submitting the recordings to the Library of Congress. VHP staff will provide field kits containing all the resources needed to submit a veteran interview to the project. The public will be able to watch this interview as it is being recorded and preserved for the Library of Congress at 11:30 a.m. in Room 103.
Library of Congress personnel will also be on hand with a booth in the Mississippi Capitol Rotunda. They will be distributing information as well as displaying examples of Mississippi cultural materials from its collections. Calling all teachers! The Library’s Educational Outreach division will share strategies for using the Library’s millions of digitized historical primary sources to support reading and literacy skills, and distribute information about professional development opportunities and primary-source sets for teachers. Teachers will be able to pick up materials and free educational resources and library services for the blind and physically handicapped. The booth will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Festivalgoers stopping by the Library’s booth rotunda can also listen to rare sound recordings of Mississippi musicians dating back to the 1930s.
“The Library of Congress is a rich treasure-trove of resources and programs for all Americans, free and accessible online,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We are bringing Library experts, program information and also some examples of Mississippi culture to share with festivalgoers as Mississippi celebrates this first of what is sure to be many great gatherings of book-lovers.”
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC), the world’s largest collection of ethnography materials, houses significant holdings from the Magnolia State, including field recordings, photographs and manuscripts. Festivalgoers stopping by the Library’s booth can experience rarely heard recordings, and view compelling, seldom-seen historic images documenting cultural life in Mississippi over the past two centuries. Highlights include materials dating to the 1920s by iconic Mississippi performers such as Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) administers the Library of Congress braille and talking-book program, providing free library service for people who cannot see to read regular print or use print materials because of a physical disability. NLS staff will provide information on how eligible Mississippians can use the program to obtain access to more than 65,000 titles of braille and talking books through their local NLS-cooperating library or through a new BARD mobile app that enables users to download talking books on their smartphones and tablets.
Congressman Harper concluded, “The public will be able to meet and hear from Mississippi authors such as John Grisham and former Governor Haley Barbour, as well as listen to historic sound recordings from our state’s music history. This will be an outstanding event, and something that folks of all ages and interests will not want to miss.”