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tv   Panel Discussion on Former Librarian of Congress James Billington  CSPAN  February 6, 2016 8:30pm-10:01pm EST

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a condition that is the psychological fear of being outside of mobile phone contact. so tease devices are wonderful but we century rein denned to them -- surrendered to them so quickly, the world health organization is calling technology -- almost reaching a stage where we can't function anymore and racing at top speed. we all know if you're busy, it's really hard to be kind or happy or wise, and that's really where our deepest fulfillment comes. so kindness, happiness and wisdom come from untethering ourselves from busyness, and opening yourselves up to something more spacious. in my book i tried to give a few examples and models of probably what everybody knows and is feeling already, which is that we're getting more and more movement in our life, and to cope with all the movement, we need a little bit of stillness, just a few drops of stepness
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every -- stillness every day will make movement more tolerable. >> for more information on bob tv's recent visit to santa barbara and the many other destinations on tower cities tour go to >> now a panel on the life and career of recent lid retired librarian of congress, james billington. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. please take your seats. >> humbled to be next to -- >> any understanding is we're live on c-span, so behave yourselves. welcome to valentine's day a bit early. i'm jane harmon, the president
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and ceo of the wilson center and i can't imagine what the wilson center would look like today if nobody had been smart enough to put jim billington in charge. [applause] we have no cannon institute no wilson quarterly, two projects at the heart of what we do. 0 who knows how many friends and how much wisdom would we would have missed out on. jim played a special role in my own education, my russian education. we crossed paths while i was in moscow on a congressional delegation, and he took us all on a tour of the kremlin. priceless. jim, your command of russia, its history and culture shows up everyone here. you have forgotten more than any of us knows. lucky for us you wrote it all down and published it with the
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wilson center press. every dear friend in the room today can back me up on just how impressive you are. and there are many dear friends here. let me just recognize a few in particular. some of whom are participating in the conversation to follow. former u.s. ambassador to russia, jim collins. gregorian, the one and only gregorian, president of the -- for sure, forever, president of the carnegie corporation. ishmael geldon, director of the library of alexandria, and they're joining us to celebrate your service. we're also luck you to be joined by latvian ambassador to the united states, acting librarian of congress, david, and jane, the library's director of outreach and a delegate to our
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board. i haven't seen grace -- there she is. hi, grace. her family has done so much to shape this institution, and guy anna davis-spencer who has been such a friend to our work. gatherings like this remind me just what an impact the center has. with friends and alumni around the globe, including hundreds in russia and ukraine even now, we put the best scholars and the moe brilliant staff to work on the most important issues. we learned that from you, jim. you always put scholarship at the heart of our work. no one who knows you would be surprised. some may already know this but jim and his daughter, susan, sitting right here, were the first father-daughter pair to rhodes scholarships. you can applaud for that. throughout your service here, at the open world leadership center
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and at the library of congress, you have shown exceptional service to the ideal woodrow wilson, and we all share knowledge in the public service. it's an honor to celebrate with you -- to celebrate that today with so many extraordinary individuals, including your own family, right in the front row, marjorie, your amazing marjorie, tom, susan, katie, sarah, and others, who were not able to join us here. and i hope you're as proud as we are of what the wilson center has been able to build on a foundation that you laid down. thanks for years of dear friendship with me and my late husband, sydney, and so many in this room and congratulations phone example you set for us all of. it's now my delight to welcome matt back 0 to america and the
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wilson center. in case you have never seen him before he is hiding under a beard and is the director of the cannon institute and we're very proud he is here and he will say a few words and i also have to recognize blair ruble, the long-standing director or the cannon institute and now our vice president for programs. so please welcome matt home. [applause] >> tanks, jane. i seem to recall there was this line in the job description for director of the cannon institute that said something about up to 25% of your time travel. it turns out russia and ukraine are pretty far away, and other important places like china are even farther. thank you for the welcome, jane. i just want to put itself simply, the crowd in this room, both the quantity and the quality, and in particular the quality of the people right up here on the podium, are
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testament to this man, jim billington so just a round of applause for all of you. [applause] >> this is really an incredible gathering, and i'm enormousry privileged and intimidated to be sitting in the middle. so if i slide under the table you'll know why. one of the priorities i had when i joined the cannon institute as its new director was to meet with dr. billington. that was an experience that i'll always remember. i learned a tremendous amount about the founding of the institute, the personalities, unique characters, all who were involved, the war stories about its early days and the wilson center the main thing i took away was his description of the urgent need and the complex challenge of creating such other center for advanced russian studies in the nation's capitol at the height of the cold war.
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it meant a great deal too hear first hand from one of the cofounder of the kenyan institute it was designed to foster the development of general understanding about then-soviet russia as well as the development oft experts grounded in broad and deep knowledge about the region. the idea was to arrest and reverse a decline in america's capacity to understand that part of the world. now, that reminds me of some research i did recently while far away from washington, dc. i was doing a fellowship another nato and this gave me a chance to resource george kennan's thinking for the need for the capacity for the united states to understand russia. the cofounded the kennan institute and he wrote that the united states government should see our public is educated to the realitied of the russian situation, he cautioned there is nothing as dangerous as terrifying as the unknown.
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and so he called for the study of russia with courage, detachment, and objectivity, these i believe are the values upon which during bigtop, ambassador kennan and dr. starr founds the kennan institute and i like to believe they're the values we observe and uphold to this day. i think many in this room are aware of the challenge of this moment. the precip douse decline in our government's support for this type of scholarship now and the resultings paucity of experts in this region in policymake are circled. so i think it's especially timely for us to gather to celebrate a man who, as the panel's title suggests, has made a career of advancing not only knowledge but knowledge and public service. i know that we at the kennan institute bear that legacy and that mission firmedly in mind as our guiding star. i want to thank jim for taking the time to meet with a newly minted kennan director that day a couple of years ago to show him what is possible eventually
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with one's career. if one has the insight and the courage that jim billington has brought to bear. i want to thank the billington family, his wife, marjorie, daughter susan and son thomas. i want to thank grace kennan for joining us and thank the distinguish evidence panel which i'll have the privilege of moderating today. with the panelists' permission i will simply proceed in the order in which i have the bios, offer a brief introduction, i think that these are people whose backgrounds speak for themselves. we'll begin with ishmael geldon, the founding director of the new library of alexandria inaugurated in 2002. he chairs the board of directors for the library's affiliated research and institutions and adviseds the egyptian on the
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cultural sciences and museums and held many important international positions including vice-president of the world bank. he is a chair and member of many advisory committees for academic research and scientific international institutions and has been involved in many important international organizations, has published over 100 books and mono graphs and over 500 papers on variety of topics. what is not mentioned in the bioills that the library was first established entirely of works written by mr. geldin. he has hosted a cultural program on television in egypt, and developed a scientific television series in arabic and english, his bachelor of science is from cairo university and his masters degree and ph.d from harvard university, and he has received 34 honorary doctorate chez understand al come poleses the wall paper of the library. >> thank you. thank you, matthew.
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ladies and gentlemen, i'm delight told be with you today to honor an amazing individual. james billington, and to do so in the presence of his lovely wife and his children as well as so many friends. now, how do you tack the measure -- take the measure of the man in by the accomplishments and also by the love he has generated among family, friends and colleagues. i believe i qualify as a friend and qaasim speak volumes about my love for jim but would like to focus my remarks on jim billington the librarian of congress and his legacy. more precisely i will speak of one aspect of the legacy, the international aspect, and even more specific live of two projected he initiated and with which i have been personally involved. first i want to note he is undoubtedly a towerrerring intellect, a great teacher and a from teaching history at harvard and princeton, he went on to
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head the fulbright program, the woodrow wilsoner in for scholars the library of congress, and as a scholar, he and i used to discuss many things from the center'd mission to the lincoln's gettysburg address and the special music we find in it. i was touched and impressed he was able to recall from memorur ago is mail, and his books, including fire in the hearts of men, and many othersers also well as his russian culture programs were an inspiration, but i leave others to speak on these facets of his eenormously productive career. a few things he did and that a great impact on me starting from before i became the librarian of alexandria in 2001. i ham a life-long bibliophile and used to get nightmares at the idea of so many becomes published on acidic paper falling into dust around the
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world, and jim billing to be launched a mass deacid-ification program in 2001 which spannedded the life responsible of 12 million manuscript shot is ss and private new selection storage facilities and opened that in 2002 and four million items are now available there during his tenure at the lie library of congress he doubled the side of analog collections and also pioneered many of the digittality programs and its international initiatives. now, jim billington did not rely on increased government funding. indeed he did all he did while presiding over a 30% reduction in staff. but jim was truly a fundraiser extraordinaire. recall his creation of the madison council this, cull door for motion pictures and the american music legacy program. but all that is but a small part
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of his enormous legacy. more than a skilledded a maror he was a true visionary. he comes from the library of congress, from the analog to digital age, from the primary library in the u.s.a. to the primary library in the world. much of the terms of numbers of acquisitions where maybe the british library may still he a light edge but also in leadership of the content and quality of librarianship. he kept it at the fortfront as the -- forefront that's standard bearer for the world, by designing new standards for the digital age. so, he assured the library of congress produced the resource, description, and access to ida in 2010 and the standard for the digital age and starting in 2011, the design of frame started, model for description should become the new standard for the whole world in the next
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year or two. jim billington cooked with the ict revolution differently than most people. he saw for the need to go beyond near live putting material online. and addressed the need to link the various parts in such a way that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. yes, he did. for the understood before anyone else it was not just about the quantity of material that can be digitized and put out on the web for the search engines of the world, held by google to find snip.s here and there of material. rather, this has is going to happen anyway but what -- how on institution like the library of congress present these materials to the public. jim was the first to recognize this with the american memory program and the first to take this into an international partnership with the world digital library program. now, i know many may think that jim billington would be a tech
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knowphone, given his age and love of books but he has a profound understand offering the real impacts of the i.t. revel luigs that so many of the tech know-philes who were enamored by the gage jetts that every more powerful computer and faster communication would bring. her understood it opened up avenue ford new kind of communication about our cultural heritage and our common humanity. he in other words that ticking a person into a roomful of disorganize it books, files, pictures, bric-a-brac would be useless. that person may suddenly fall upon an interesting picture or get ene enamarred by the title of a book but serving up the information to the public is not vocation of a librarian or the as separation of an intellectual. schreck different, creation, and presentation were needed. as early also 1990 jim was the first to understand that the simple digitizeddation of
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material and putting on the internet would be the equivalent of bringing a roomful of discoringed room of pictures and books and bric-a-brac to the person's hands delivered loud the computer, but bringing the collection to interlinked to each person on the internet would be something defendant. digital creation is about the selection, preservation, collection and archiving of the digital assets and establishes and adds value to the repositories of the digital data for present and future use. this is a work that is accomplished by librarians, historians and scholars. but it's the design of the links and the explanations provided by the curators wars also targeted to an audience that covers the k through 12 range of the next generation and what was simply a selection of data became an enormously valuable learning tool. that's one of the signature programs of the library of congress which spawned the american me. riff program, which according to
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jim had to be understood by a ten-year-old. the american memory program launched in 1990 was not only a pioneering program but enormous -- put online and curated fashion more than 20 million americans look at the collections of the libraries and other research institutions. jim also championed the library's many other internet services beyond the american memory program, there is the congressional database, online card catted log, -- catalogue, thest copyright office, america's library, and all of that is really used. in 2013 i notice it the library had recorded 84 million visits and 590 million page views. in fact i got to know jim through the american memory program when i was vice president of the world bank and i was fascinated to learn mow about the program, and from that context i was fascinated by the man, the intellectual and the
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historian. and the with doom he possessed. ladies and gentlemen -- the wisdom he polled. i am overwhelmed by the amount of dot to generated bet data organized becomes information and information when explained becomes knowledge. but humanity needs more than knowledge. we need wisdom. wisdom is a different quality. it is not an attribute of youth. the young can be intelligent, brilliant, even generouses geniuses but not wisdom. when we save that young man is wise beyond his years, why? because we know the quality that comes from experience and reflection. imagine the intellect with the essence of a life well lived where knowledge is acquired, and -- wisdom to the tasks he chose to pursue, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to turn to two programs i had the police of working close live with jim on the initiation and their continuation to this day. the world digital lie area and
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the international summit of the book. the world digital library is an ambitious program launched by jim, supported by unesco and brought together 181 libraries from 81 countries that foe kentuckyed on quality, not quantity and brought together curated material from all over the world, cover maps, manuscripts, pictures, books, in some 112 languages and created the material in seven languages and jim ensured that the library of congress provided the team and asset very high standard for at the curation, presentation of the selected materials in a manner worthy of presenting to the cultures of the world in all their richness and diversity. a quite small library but the entire library of congress started with a mere 6,500 books from the jefferson collection.
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today standard 14,000 items and 600,000 imagessed. nothing by comparison to what the internet provides. but it'sit still succeeds in attracting four million visitors a year, and reference 3.3 million links from the internet into the wtf. thus is quality recorded. and recognized. now, those who see the need that others ignore. jim billington did that in the international summit of the book. jim believed that the world should annually celebrate the book. the institute of cultural development and cultural continuity throughout all the countries of the world. the called in unesco to support and it he and congressman john ratson deserve immense credit for that. launched at the library of congress in december 2012 and i had the privilege of delivering
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the opening keynote address. i have -- i'm happy to give you a copy of this dvd as a keepsake with a text copy inside as well. i'm happy to give it to you as a souvenir of your decision to invite me to speak at that event. we went to singapore and alex san trea and i par difference pated in each event and next year isth it goes too ireland at your initiative lives on. ladies and gentlemen, as i said i have been privileged to work closelitive jim and his marvelous colleagues at the library of congress on these two particular programs. the world digital library, launched in 2009, and the interna summit of the book launched in 2012. this last year i presided at the annual meeting of book events in november 2015. just after jim had retired on september 30th. it is stunning that the participants in both events
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asked me to convey a special appreciation for jim billington on their behalf, and i have both of these documents here to deliver to jim billington. applause >> but i need to read to you what the text says. the member of the world digital library assembled november 6, 2015. having learned of the rife timer of james hillington the librarian of congress and initiator of the world digital library wish to formally record our esteem for his visionary and exemplary leadership profound appreciation of this countless contradiction that made the world digital library a reality. with our best wishes for a happy retirement, knowing that your legacy lives on and grows from strength to strength. now, the same time,
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back-to-back, like we did in 2012, we also had the international summit of the book, and there it's the text is somewhat different if the ambition is the same. it says: we the lie lie bray brans intellectualle and book lives assembled on november 6, 2015, to celebrate the fourth international summit of the book, carrying the torch of the previous summits, initiated at the library of congress in 2012, carried forward in singapore in 2013, and paris 2014, hereby record or esteemed appreciation hoff the initiatives' vision of james billington, librarian of congress and initiator of the international summit of the book. with profound thanks for all of us and the untold million offed book lovers at the world for the book was, is, and remains the blame mary form of cultural communication, transmanipulation of knowledge pace and time we
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saluted jim billington not only the librarian of congress but also as the librarian for the world. builder of great institutions, visionary leader of a legendary institution, a great library made greater with jim at the helm. a world enriched be there ises you advanced, the dreams you believed in the people you nurtured, the culture you cared for so much. jim, we thank you for all you have done, but above all we thank you for being the wonderful person that you are. [applause] >> thank you.
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that was truly moving and i would say worthy perhaps of a world librarian in it scope and and digitizeization for posteri. next its my privilege to introduce gregorian, the one and only, the 12th president of the carnegie corporation of new york, grant making institution found by andrew carnegie in 1911. he assumed that position in 1997, before which he served nine years as president of brown university and before that, from 1981 to 1989 as president of the new york public library. he himself was born in iran to oar meanan parents and received his elementary education in iran and his secondary education in lebanon in 1956 he entered stanford university where he majored in history and the humanities and graduated with honors. he was awarded a ph.d in
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history from stanford in 1964. he taught european and middle eastern history at san francisco state college, university of california l.a., university of texas at austin, and in 1972, rejoined the university of pennsylvania where he was appoint evidence professor of history and professor of south asian hoyt. a founding deep of the faculty of arts and sciences at the university of pennsylvania, and later became its 23rd provost. he is the author of a great many books, including the road to him, my life and times, islam, a mosaic, not a monolith and the or in generals of modern afghanistan, one might argue it is still emerging. which is being now reissued -- reissued no 2013 with a new dough, ducks. he has received a great many fellowships and awarded -- if can see we have competition brewing -- 7 honorary degrees but when your at this level you
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just call all your friends and give each other degrees. in 1998, president clinton -- that's out in how it works. okay. president clinton awarded him the national humanities medal and in 2004 president bush awarded him the medal of freedom the nice's highest civil award in 2009, president obama appointed him to the white house fellowships commission. he currently serves on a great many boards including the institute for advanced study and the national september 11th september 11th memorial museum. >> thank you very much. i gave my speech, so -- while was talking and put something notes to be able to say something meaningful. ...
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>> the. >> i went to oh calcutta and said bader redoing with the library of congress example to copies of each book published in india what do you do? reset the to the basement
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but with my obligation. [laughter] so having collection carries a historical obligations and duties because librarians are custodians cop with the very of mankind all of the aspirations and not to have self-inflicted all cyberis diseased. in to remind us always. second as a your pope to collaborate i have to tell you to appreciate him for several reasons. , i was part of the committee to see if he will
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be willing to join in the texas faculty. that did not happen unfortunately another proof also that did not happen. and also what happens with the library of congress. i have to confess after it became president i realized to think of my position. the librarian's dislike the fact the top positions are not librarians. it is a fact. and the likely so and the
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new york public library in a the most avid is historians. that in order to repair the damage the mastery of library science his. [laughter] but i say this because it is natural. i also understand why historians are chosen for this position because it is from a cultural perspective with face specialization in your also of idb intellectual. because it requires these qualifications. is equally beautiful speeches.
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but at the same time, a historian and intellectual curious about all cultures cultures, i was very impressed that he told one of the most and exploited or unexplored or a reduced collections in the library of congress are a german publications 50s and 60s from nebraska end iowa. let's start a foundation to utilize to exploit the german publications library. he said it with such passion i thought he was asking to raise money to start a german collections.
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[laughter] when he helped me and i was president of the new york public library. we have hundred riders to vouch they would not allow any publications to be published. that is a tremendous thing. because i consulted at the time. to gm also appreciates historical universities but the fact osama was established in the middle of the civil war with public and diversities of the united states in the middle of the civil war to study
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the merits of the measures. with those editorials are graced with taxpayers' money but they were interested in the nation's future and that is what they we're doing to build a future. so we held the exhibition and the republished entire league in speeches edward sent to every congressman and every governor and lieutenant governor and vice president first republican and presidents only three of them returned. it was more then $50.
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so i kindly send them to their alma mater. [laughter] one of the most eloquent and articulate of the book if you have not read it the cultural history there is a chapter by jim. and they are irked companions for life but i
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assure you what i did before someone told me the entire greek literature is in this also. [laughter] so it doesn't matter. taken from the storage to another storage but not with the confused means and also mark twain who said it has been connected to super disco and has not been tested francisco. [laughter] some technology is great and
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not because congress demanded it is irresponsible for the welfare of all other libraries and their nation. so that was a great tribute. to gm and all the other librarians. i don't want to take more time but i will tell you the other things. jim was in charge of the federal government. and with the competent bureaucrats.
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with the incompetence in in the difference librarian's ahead of libraries in the system becomes more important than the message to convey. that every american for the first time in creation of. you don't have to be thorough in the more. it is the crime of the century. if you don't do justice to the fact you have your own library to build them preserve and to receive and
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don't blame the lack of teachers or the lack of books or the lack of institutions with the instinctive search for knowledge he and wisdom. t.s. eliot summed up very well where is knowledge and the formation. that is what we did. the library of congress was international in nature that is why it is a great pride but also serving as a
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go-between for the library of congress. with the destination so it should not, as a surprise. because the content is international. because those six -- 69 bridges -- 16 languages s.a. library of congress because the world hasn't been guarded to cultivate.
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and maybe i am breaking confidence, there are rules that congressman can beat and contemplate and the private and with the library of congress with the children in school children it is a parochial he is not. and the library of congress has played the role to build neighborhoods and more than that he also led to renewed -- iran. also the national library of
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course, the federal government for or behalf of the united states i'm glad that mr. carnegie said we will take care of the library of congress. [laughter] because that was dedicated solely to mention the multiple tasks with any major organization. but once they we should not forget the mission for the library of congress has said kept afloat to treat old culture is as important to
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help repatriate the company has been destroyed in the library of congress has the heritage with eight hard drives to etf give universities. but their previous librarian of congress also did something wonderful. with the india and pakistan. and they could not be spent outside of those countries.
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we should by all the periodicals. subject as a scholar and a historian in the intimate -- intellectual that the same time kerry is in terms of culture. bin to seek how to disseminate with these technologies. two layabout -- to a great foundation. thank you for all your help from the new york public library is read from the depressed the germans. [laughter] and afghanistan and and russia and educating
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congress about russia, but thanks for being a good teacher and a good friend and always eloquent. thank you very much. [applause] >> bbdo the distinction into top honoraria dr. its it you dominated him for sainthood. [laughter] i think sympatric sainthood is based on knowledge zwicky is a builder not a destroyer. now to jim collins diplomat in in president at the
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carnegie endowment to serve as u.s. ambassador and before that appointment was ambassador at large in special advisor to the secretary of state. into the u.s. embassy in moscow and we are very happy in the few important things from 1981 and with those three diplomatic postings as consulate general and the department does state and washington has been active on the boards of nonprofit organization and has been
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with the carnegie endowment since 2007. he chairs a 55 year-old u.s.-soviet u.s. russian second tract diplomacy effort. he has been a tremendous voice of russian and u.s. foreign policy now in our troubled times and i would ask he has taught me everything i know it -- about russia but i think he's going to say gm taught him everything he knows. [laughter] >> i think it is now 58 years ago i went into harvard university for the first course i never took in russian history. it was a rather young assistant professor who diktat that course by the name of jim billington.
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and it got out of the end over time. [laughter] those of our careers in one way or another ended up the associated with what has happened with the part of the world called the soviet union or eurasia or whatever you call that. of parts of the world that was a defining part for the last half of the 20th century to approach our responsibilities in the way we look at the world. so my introduction in at that time was about as steady as you could get it is served me well three career.
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to talk about policy developer and died -- and a guideline has been said about the library but to make a couple of points to have a diplomatic career everywhere i won it -- everywhere i went to ministry of culture americans still have the ministry of culture. but in a peculiar way the library embodies the idea of the ministry of culture. in my view is the repository for the expression of the american people what they have spent and are and want to be and how they see their place in the world.
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it is important as well that unlike other countries it doesn't belong to the executive branch that belongs to the congress of the founders meant to be the people's place. and i would simply say in that regard, the library and a librarian with it tries to be in and what it has been and what it helps the world will see us as representing. that is a big job title of the getty betty has said it better. i suppose since we both started a long time ago with his preoccupation with russia will link wages and culture it was fortuitous
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that jim came to the job to be so that part of the world about his ideology was suddenly the upheaval. and there were no certainty is any more. so you came to the library at the height of perestroika when gorbachev was beginning to question the whole basis of the soviet system and uncertainties were not certain. in that context i am here to tell you i don't look too political scientist rory economist so what you think
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about in the wisdom in the neck since our country was extremely fortunate has a library of congress was a historian probably our best recognized and was in a position a degree of influence the way they approached to the changes come began taking place in the russian federation. i think there was the theme that to the way he approached how the americans from his point of view dealing with the strange thing that was opening up.
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but if you give the russian people of the former soviet union access to what was diverse or rich or different over three-quarters of the century to put the ministry jacket that they would counter reasonable and a cultural relevant to approach. that we could coexisted and live in peace. he never thought it would be
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easy but that was the guiding the idea. but i want to mention for saying is that he did in my view. not by any means in his time when i worked with him. with the country that has isolated itself and suddenly throws the door opened? and how should we best define the approach to make the relations? >> the first thing i would single out that jim did have his bosses in the congress but in many ways they understood they had a guide. j bin shin's he gave her an
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education on a congressional delegation that was traveling to russia and know-how many over a period of several years and fundamentally what was important for all of the diplomats on the other end with those delegations with the russian federation reasonably well prepared to have an open mind and some background for what it was they were encountering and most importantly the adn that you need to listen. it is said justin articulating or set out a
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set of points but listening to what the other side has to say. to help them understand what they were hearing. so the role that you played with the members of congress. with the rapidly changing world of the people it is immensely important. but in the broadest experience to take institutions the library of the federation that was a straitjacket for three-quarters of a century
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but the arcade access controls that was parceled out by rate. the libraries were not designed for people to go read or explore for the people who needed to know something with admiration. he brought to friends in in russia to become a partner to find ways to open up russia's libraries. he pushed the american-led military from libraries closing in europe helped the russians libraries
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understand modern library techniques. he opened up entirely new connections to a world he headed the counter with. in to organize and understand the past bin with the russian federation would
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of the problems we had as the american government to have a diplomatic representation that was designed to fight the cold war which more or less mitt we lived in a full and there was some suspicion about having anything to do with on the outside. so i thought we had to have a new way to engage the broader base. so i cooked up an idea with jim this support and encouragement. and again it is libraries and his opening to the people that he knew that made this possible.
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we will give you a computer link and a printer and a collection and that gm was responsible for collecting. if you give us the room to make it open to anyone without a pass or qualifications. by the time i left we had 20 of those then by the time i left a - - the program was shut down by mr. putin it was 40. to come into contact to use those instruments and collections for library of congress agrees to have lines waiting to get to those computers.
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to have citizens in the former soviet space the opportunity to see alternatives it isn't all simply the way it had to be for most of the adult lives. and the final program he developed it is jim's a loaded was cooked up initially of my dining room table in august 1991 but it took a little while to get going but he managed to convince congress and in particular, senator stevens that it would be a good idea to have a lot of russians come to the united states to
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see how we do things, understand how americans live their daily lives day to day and how we deal with our issues. that is the birth of the open world program that has now brought about 24,000 individuals from the former soviet union and east europe. they come from every province from the former soviet union aided the idea has remained the same since the inception and it is the one that embodied the idea is that jim had for this program to bring people who have not been here before it doesn't matter if they speak english or not but give them a couple of days in
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washington then send them to a town or a city to live with families to see how we really do things that bill local level that program has been extremely successful and today is the biggest program united states can ever read has it that part of the world. so i simply a would say in the broader sense of the word with the rapidly changing with transforming part of the world as it is to rent to conceptualize to
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bring people together in the ukrainian people and so forth there was an equal. they say that with a great deal of pride. see you have a legacy that goes well beyond the book that is sustained by the book by a growing generation of the people who have there first encounters with the united states because of what you have done. [applause] >> last answer to read not
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least and director of the urban policy laboratory serving for also coordinating programming on an urban studies for decades and his bachelor's with highest honors from the diversity of fourth carolina at chapel hill. in the author to study urban issues including most recently the biography that i have to relate very recently when i had the opportunity to take a high-level delegation for
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the tour of the other washington of course, we took them to the african american civil war museum the howard theater if. i realized this distinguished group of russians who thought they understood it washington and understood to always have something to learn and in the spirit to talk about jim billington. >> it is up fresh -- a pleasure to be happier sharing. i have been now asked to speak about his scholarship it if you ever tried to pick up the books he has written you will understand how
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difficult that is but it is good for your health because his books particularly, the two of them all and i wanted to do was offer observations how this works of intellectual history has in fact, shaped that intellectual discourse part of that has to do with scholarship and part of it to translate thought into action to carry that sought further into the future. as jane harman said we indie
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institution it is impossible to understand if we don't take into account remarkable role which really began with his scholarship the way she thinks about the world. i want to go back to a comment made but it is never just a footnote that any gathering. but he spoke very eloquently of the power of the book what he's really talking about is the power of thought that intellectual historians explore.
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that what makes people's minds work to underscore herb the importance of the interpretive history this is the book which has defined russia. and regarded as one of the landmarks not just the american writing i've never told this story when he came to speak at the university of north carolina of a couple years after it appeared in restarted off to read that book as a sophomore at the university
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to fully grasp. but he came to lecture and that was the night i decided i really wanted to understand russia. so we talk tell people influence other people but it is often through private moments like that that the world has changed one decision at a time. in to begin to ruth capture the importance to transform the world.
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of the less we carry with dennis extensive knowledge of the russian past. not that we know how to look something up but russia that allows it to think about the russian presence. this is what has led gm and george within the wilson center from his arrival in washington. is another example of how not traded through institutions is through life from all of us. jim also became a model for many of us in the room by continuing his scholarship.
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actually this is a panel full of people who could remind us of the important link between scholarship in more ways than one they're tied together if you think what an institutional our strategy should be it comes down to how we think about the world. and how we can translate into action. so not only a scholar writing these books, but a human being he translates the knowledge in those books through his visionary perspective into institutions and concrete actions. looking at the core of his scholarship to inhabit a
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world in which culture or immoral bought in the monumental fire that the lady is shape the world. into drive human action. it may be one of the reasons as a democratic institution the way he has. with how important the french revolution was to ignite these fires into the minds of men because as having shaped the world
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profoundly through a revolutionary slogan that is much more than a slogan. and as the ideas shape the world ellis' they reshaped russia. that means you cannot take a single dimension we have to begin to understand they are interwoven through the lenses of historical and ideological understandings of what russia can be hand what it is. at this center of this quest to as gm argues stay in the
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russian orthodox lot. that set of beliefs is the moral underpinning that is different from anglo-saxon in sensibilities. says the road to the late 19th century it is sense of protestant mind. this does not mean that russia doesn't have a moral base or a moral compass but the calibration depends on different readings all together. that is an idea bin it also explains his remarkable
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friendship that is a profoundly moral figure as russia searches for itself to understand the power. so this perspective on russia he brought with him in to it is interesting the perspective during the 20th-century with isaiah in berlin. en to understand the philosophical foundations. and not surprisingly to the
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famous two concepts of liberty to have a plurality of meaning and i had to realize some of is a powerful idea about liberty with the contradictions in in the consciousness. where george candid once quipped. to assume they are both true. in times of uncertainty to turn to the historians to appreciate why that can be
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part of a whole. this is where historians come in. why does this matter at all? i faced we can begin to understand how his perspective can inform the world's struggling in his relationship with the russian people. to forced to step back and think a moment. washington within 3 miles of where we're sitting with scores of people who are ambitious with a diplomatic cable but what they failed
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to appreciate they did just not right that book. there to write to tell way they have written because they already devoted the portion of their souls to engage with russia. this is the al wellspring for knowledge and wisdom. in the opening of his book about experiences being in moscow to transform this appeared well evens were unfolding in there was a time about russia's future not in moscow.
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in gem was enjoying with his dinner table and also getting out in the city. live into a revolutionary moment. and why all that knowledge was able to begin his book the with the anticipated heroism of a relatively small band of russians. but soaring summer hopes gives way to discontent.
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ended 1991 the post-communist commitment to democracy is not accompanied by any real historical experience and russia. it into an issue in the immensity of the change with the record of autocratic rule. to say there is no hope to
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write about the event but that hope is tempered by his appreciation of everything that led up to those events. so the scholarship is to demonstrate through his own writing. finocchio. [applause] i cannot think the panel enough for providing the soaring rhetoric with his insight in his own words and
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tva testament and to have thoughts that you would like to add so i would suggest in their relatively concise way and make available to anyone who will raise their hand and now we will take a few minutes to let you add your comments and thoughts. >> we would like to add the word about his attributes as a great teacher.
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in then all the great things he did here to be fortunate enough to be one of his graduate students. and why it took away from the seminar is the concept the soviet union would not be around forever. and i remember vividly the discussion of the assertion was a more fundamental watershed. all of the students regarded that but by the end of the course i was persuaded them that. would enter the foreign service id the state department had this subversive mission it is not the case.
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i certainly did not expect to be around with the culmination at the end of the soviet union but when it did we cannot claim them to be psychologically prepared if i was entirely comfortable because of that seminar i had earlier with a great teacher. [applause] >> of a friend of mine lies in the library in she said it doesn't matter.
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and with everybody who was in this room and for two countries with russia in america. thank you very much. [applause] >> i just want to mention in one honor. i am a friend of the wilson center. and the president designates dr. billington as librarian of congress emeritus only the second person or the third person in the history
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of our country to be afforded that honor. if you don't think that speaker ryan gore mcconnell or policy or president obama can agree on that extraordinary service of dr. billington. [applause] so that is an optimistic note in that macro since in that is the fitting of the service. . .
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now, onard" are afterwords," mat lewis, the author of "too dumb to fail." he argues that the republican party needs to return to its roots in order to avoid becoming a minority party. he is interview by seven e. cupp. calumist for the "new york daily news." >> host: matt, when did you start writing this snook it brilliantly predicts the landscape of where we are now with this election. it's so timely. take me through the process of when that's l


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