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"America's Story from America's Library" wants you to have fun with history while learning at the same time. We want to put the story back in history and show you some things that you've never heard or seen before. The stuff you see comes from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Library is the largest in the world and has millions of amazing things that will surprise you.

You may think all those items are books, but in fact, most of them are not. They are letters, diaries, records and tapes, films, sheet music, maps, prints, photographs and digital materials. Much of what you see on America's Library will be those non-book items, and many of those materials are found only in the collections of the Library of Congress. Teachers refer to these types of materials as "primary sources."

They are called this because these materials are often the first, or primary, source of information. For example, Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence tells us a lot about what went through his mind as he was writing this most important document. When you look at it you can see which words he and other members of the Continental Congress changed and compare it to the final Declaration. If you look at the contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night he died, you can get a glimpse into the life of the most famous man in America in 1865.

Although these materials tell many stories, they do not tell everything. Books and other resources are also very important. We hope the stories in America's Library will make you want to explore further. That is why we offer links to the other parts of the Library of Congress Web site at -- such as "American Memory," which offers millions of items online -- and why we encourage you to go to your local library and read more about your country's fascinating past.

Tell your friends about this site and look and listen for special public ads about it on TV, radio and the Web. The Library of Congress and the Ad Council are partners in promoting this new Web site so that families everywhere can take advantage of this free public service.

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