Library of Congress Online Conference for Educators

Library Announces Its First Online Conference for Educators

Sessions Include Photographer Carol Highsmith, Use of Primary Sources in the Classroom

The Library of Congress will bring teachers and education experts from across the nation together in its first online conference for educators. This free two-day event, “The Library of Congress and Teachers: Unlocking the Power of Primary Sources,” will be heldOctober 27-28 from 4-8 p.m. EDT, and will be open to K-12 educators from across all instructional disciplines.

The two-day event will include 15 one-hour sessions facilitated by Library specialists, instructional experts from the Library’s Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium, and other recognized K-12 leaders. Sessions will cover topics ranging from literacy and historical thinking to historic newspapers and the Civil Rights Act, and will all focus on the effective use of primary source documents in the classroom.

Primary sources have unique instructional power, according to the Library’s director of Educational Outreach, Lee Ann Potter: “By analyzing primary sources, students can engage with complex content, build their critical-thinking skills and create new knowledge. The Library’s online conference for educators will allow teachers to learn how to access Library of Congress resources and to discover new strategies for integrating primary sources into their instruction.”

The keynote speaker for the event will be photographer Carol Highsmith, who will discuss her decades-long project of documenting the United States in a one-hour conversation with Helena Zinkham, director of Collections and Services at the the Library.

Library experts will include specialists from the World Digital Library, the Chronicling America newspaper archives project, the Prints and Photographs Division, the Veterans History Project and more.

Other presenters will include Sam Wineburg and Joel Breakstone from Stanford University, Barbara Stripling from Syracuse University and Dan Rothstein of the Right Question Institute.

After the live online conference, the Library will make recordings of all sessions available to the public on its website. Teachers will be able to earn up to 15 hours of CEU/PDU (Continuing Education Units/Professional Development Units) by participating in or viewing online conference sessions, and certificates will be available when each session is completed.

Participants may register here and interested educators can follow the preparations for the conference on Twitter at @TeachingLC and by following #LCTeachConf. Through its specialized educational resource site, the Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help educators effectively use primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections in their teaching, including detailed lessons plans that meet Common Core, state and national standards, a series of Student Discovery Sets (interactive ebooks for tablets), and a series of Summer Teacher Institutes, all at no charge.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. The Library serves the public, scholars, Members of Congress and their staffs. Many of the Library’s resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website at

Collaborative grant from AASL

Monetary amount: $2,500

Deadline: February 1, 2016


The Collaborative School Library Award recognizes and encourages collaboration and partnerships between school librarians and teachers in meeting goals outlined in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs through joint planning of a program, unit or event in support of the curriculum and using school library resources.


The applicants will be a school librarian and teacher(s) who have worked together to execute a project, event, or program to further information literacy, independent learning, and social responsibility using resources of the school library. The application will address the degree to which the project meets the standards outlined in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.

The following criteria will be used in the selection process:

  • The school librarian must be a personal member of AASL.
  • The project will be judged on:
    • The degree of joint effort, over a significant period of time, between the school librarian and classroom teacher(s);
    • Use of school library resources;
    • Degree in meeting the goals and standards outlined inEmpowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.

The project submitted should reflect a best practice that can serve as a model for others in collaborative planning. It is recommended that a portion of the cash award be used to provide opportunities for the recipients to share their project at a state association conference.

Letters About Literature Contest

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12, sponsored by the Library of Congress National Center for the Book and Dollar General. Students are asked to read a book, poem, or speech and write to that author (living or dead) about how the work affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. Here are the Rules and Guidelines, and here is a Teaching Guide. The Letters About Literature Teaching Guide provides activities teachers and librarians can use to guide their students through the book discussion and letter-writing process. The guide addresses the LAL teaching strategies and ways in which the program can dovetail with national standards for teaching reading and writing as well as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Also included are worksheets for duplication and assessment checklists.

The Empire State Center for the Book is a participant in the national Letters About Literature program.The state winners in the three age categories go on to represent New York at the national level.

There are three competition levels:
• Level 1 for grades 4-6; • Level 2 for grades 7-8; Level 3 for grades 9-12

Submission deadlines to the Library of Congress national program are:

Level 3 – December 4, 2015

Levels 1 & 2 – January 11, 2016

The Empire State Center for the Book’s Letters About Literature program will select a state winner and 1-2 finalists in each of the three age categories. The winners and finalists will receive certificates and cash awards. The winners will be recognized at the New York State Writers Hall of Fame Induction Gala on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, at the Princeton Club in New York City. The NYS Writers Hall of Fame is also a program of the Empire State Center for the Book.

National winners, announced in late April/early May, receive additional cash prizes. For more information, please visit the national web site at:

Please contact Ellen Rubin, NYS Letters About Literature Coordinator, with any questions at: ellenbr47 @


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