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The Sounds of America: 'Pale Blue Dot'

(Photo credit: NASA)
(Photo credit: NASA)

Dr. Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, spoke to 1A last week about the newest additions to the National Recording Registry.

Every year, 25 audio recordings are added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. Each has been chosen because of its historical, cultural, or aesthetic importance to our nation’s audio heritage.

The registry contains audio recordings of all types, from music and radio broadcasts to dramatic performances and speeches. Our series, “The Sounds of America,” takes a closer look at some of these selections.

In this edition, we speak about a recording from astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan. He was committed to making science more accessible through his speaking engagements, his media projects (such as the television series “Cosmos”), and his popular science books.

In 1994, Sagan published a book called “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.” It was inspired by a photograph of Earth taken from so far away in space that the planet looks like a pale blue dot. Sagan voiced the audiobook of Pale Blue Dot himself. And this recording has been selected for the 2023 National Recording Registry.

We hear from Sagan’s collaborator and wife Ann Druyan, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, artist Jon Lomberg, and rapper Lazarus.

Want to add a recording you think should be added to the National Recording Registry? Your nomination must meet three conditions; there needs to be an existing physical copy of the recording, it has to be at least ten years old, and it has to have had some significant impact on American culture. Just send the library an email recregistry@loc.gov.

The Sounds of America is produced by Jennie Cataldo for Accompany Studios.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

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Rupert Allman