The Association of Research Libraries joins the library community in honoring James H. Billington’s illustrious career as the 13th Librarian of Congress and a renowned scholar of Russian history. Dr. Billington died at age 89 on November 20, 2018, in Washington, DC. President Ronald Reagan appointed Billington as Librarian of Congress in 1987 and he served for 28 years, leading the nation’s library through a time of extraordinary change. He doubled the size of the library’s analog collections while also putting the library online and launching a series of digital programs to extend the library’s reach around the world. Dr. Billington excelled at recruiting donors—raising half a billion dollars in private support for the library. One important result of those efforts was the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, a state-of-the-art facility where the Library of Congress acquires, preserves, and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings. Dr. Billington will be missed.
For more details, see the November 21 “Statement from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden on the Passing of 13th Librarian of Congress James H. Billington” and the Washington Post obituary “James H. Billington, Long-Reigning Librarian of Congress, Dies at 89.”