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James Billington, librarian of Congress, to speak at Wake Forest convocation

September 7, 2007

James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress for the past 20 years, will speak at Wake Forest University’s Fall Convocation Oct. 30 in Wait Chapel.  Free and open to the public, the event will be held at 11 a.m.

The university will also present awards to faculty and alumni at the event.

Billington has led the Library of Congress as it has launched major Internet-related initiatives, including the library’s “American Memory” National Digital Library (NDL), which makes freely available on-line nearly 11 million American historical items from the collections of the library and other research institutions. 

The Library of Congress’s Web site reports that the library is “the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress.”  Furthermore, it is “the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections,” the Web site explains.

A former history professor at Princeton and Harvard universities, Billington served as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars before he was named librarian of Congress.  He is the author of several books, including “The Face of Russia,” a companion book to the three-part television series of the same name, which he wrote and narrated for the Public Broadcasting Service. 

He has accompanied 10 congressional delegations to Russia and the former Soviet Union.  In 1988, he accompanied President Ronald Reagan to the Soviet Summit in Moscow.

At the convocation, Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch will honor two alumni with the Marcellus E. Waddill Excellence in Teaching Award.  The $20,000 award is given annually to one primary school teacher and one secondary school teacher who are Wake Forest graduates.

The university will also present the Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service to two faculty members.

In addition, the university will formally recognize students serving on the Honor and Ethics Council, the Board of Investigators and Advisors, and the Judicial Council.

Press Contacts:

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

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