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Nation's Top Librarian Will Speak at Davidson on "Future of the Book"

April 6, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

James Billington
Librarian of Congress James Billington

James Hadley Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will speak at Davidson College on Thursday, April 19, about "The Future of the Book." Appearing as the college's 2001 Reynolds Lecturer, Billington will begin his remarks at 7:30 p.m. in Love Auditorium of Chambers Building. Admission is free.

On the morning of April 19, Billington will appear on "Charlotte Talks" on WFAE 90.7 at 9 a.m. The program will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m. that evening.

The Library of Congress was established in 1800, and Billington became its thirteenth librarian when he took the oath of office in 1987. Under his leadership the library has expanded its public outreach, most notably in major international exhibits and through the establishment of a new National Digital Library and other electronic services for users in remote locations.

Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Billington graduated with highest honors from Princeton University in 1959. He received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Balliol College of Oxford University in England, and received a doctorate from that institution. Following service with the U.S. Army, he taught history at Harvard University from 1957 to 1962, then was professor of history at Princeton University from 1964-1974.

From 1973-1987 Billington was director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Under his leadership, the Center established eight new programs, beginning with the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in 1974. Billington founded the Wilson Quarterly in 1976 and initiated a series of scholars guides to educational resources in Washington.

Billington has written a number of books on Russian and Soviet history, including Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism, The Icon and the Axe, Fire in the Minds of Men, Russian Transformed: Breakthrough to Hope, August 1991, and The Face of Russia. Billington wrote the latter volume as a companion piece to a three-part television series which he wrote and narrated for Public Broadcasting System stations in June 1998. It explored the history and promise of the Russian people through their art and culture.

Billington has also been host, commentator, or consultant on numerous other educational and network television programs, and he has accompanied a number of congressional delegations and other groups to the USSR and the Russian Federation. In June 1989, he accompanied President and Mrs. Reagan to the Soviet Summit in Moscow.

Billington was a longtime member of the editorial advisory boards of the journals, Foreign Affairs and Theology Today. From 1971-1976 he served as a member of the Board of Foreign Scholarships, which has executive responsibility for academic exchanges worldwide under the Fulbright-Hays Act. He is on the board of the Center for Theological Inquiry, and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Billington has been a visiting lecturer or research professor at numerous universities and research centers in America and overseas, and is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He has received twenty-two honorary degrees, and in 1992 received Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award. France has decorated him both as "Chevalier" and as "Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters." He has also received Germany's "Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit," and the Republic of Korea's "Gwanghwa Medal.

For more information on his talk at Davidson, call 894-2288.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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