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Case Number 19877: Small Claims Court

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The Real National Treasure

History Channel // 2010 // 47 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // October 9th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Sandra Dozier just booked her winter vacation to the Library of Congress.

The Charge

"We are rescuing the United States culture."
Stephen Nease, Chief of Technology, Packard Campus

The Case

When most Americans think of the Library of Congress, they think of the place members of Congress use to conduct their research into law and other aspects of American culture, or perhaps the largest library in the world. Both are correct, but the true extent of the Library of Congress reaches far beyond these concepts, and The Real National Treasure aims to give viewers an idea of that scope.

Originally produced as part of History Channel's Modern Marvels series, the show is trimmed to a standard airtime of 47 minutes. The different branches and functions of the Library of Congress are presented, giving a fascinating glimpse into this nationally recognized storehouse of American culture. Over 4,000 employees catalog and preserve books, music, movies, and other important treasures, such as George Washington's diaries or the first drawings of the moon Galileo made after looking through his telescope. Carefully built storehouses keep delicate materials in climate controlled rooms, vastly prolonging the life of these items.

One of the key goals of the Library is restoration and preservation. Experts restore, enhance, and protect faded and worn documents and artifacts, and part of that preservation is to digitize these items. Not only does this take a snapshot of the item before it can degrade any further, but it enables the information to be shared with a wider audience via interactive kiosks within the Library and online through their website at http://www.loc.gov. To wrap your brain around the amount of computer hardware required, storage is measured in petabytes; one petabyte is one million gigabytes. The ultimate success of the digitization of these documents was fully realized in late 2009, with the launch of the World Digital Library website, http://www.wdl.org.

For anyone interested in learning or history, The Real National Treasure is a welcome affirmation that there are millions of others just like you, many of whom are dedicated to preserving an significant essence of the American experience and all cultures that have influenced our growth as a country and a people. From a building that started with just over 6000 books purchased from Thomas Jefferson's private library, the Library of Congress has certainly come a long way.

The Real National Treasure is a joint production between the Library of Congress and the History Channel. The full frame video and 2.0 Stereo audio presentation are average; nothing outstanding, and no wear or quality problems, as you would expect from a recently produced documentary. The style of director Bruce Nash is nicely paced, with a clean narrative and plenty of time allowed for interviews without lingering needlessly on any one subject. The lone extra is a 10 minute promotional video—"The Library of Congress Experience"—that quickly touches on the learning opportunities the Library offers. Whereas the main feature is appropriate for adults and kids alike, this short piece is aimed mainly at children and parents.

While this is a fascinating look at the Library of Congress, the run time is not very impressive, and much of the material is already available online, via the History Channel's website. The Real National Treasure is probably more appropriate for a teaching situation, learning tool, or library item for adults or children who want to know more about the Library of Congress.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 47 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette

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