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February 21, 2007

Librarian of Congress Names Media Entrepreneur Gerry Lenfest as Chairman of the James Madison Council

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced that he has named H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest as chairman of the James Madison Council, the Library’s private-sector advisory body. He succeeds Edwin L. Cox Sr. of Dallas, who will continue as a member of the Madison Council.

"Gerry’s demonstrated leadership abilities and record as an innovator and builder of cultural institutions are invaluable assets to the James Madison Council," Dr. Billington said. "We are fortunate that the Council’s stewardship is in the hands of an individual who brings such wisdom, enthusiasm and experience to the future work of the Council."

Lenfest added, "I am indeed honored to take on the chairmanship of the James Madison Council and will work with my fellow members to make membership in the Council both enjoyable and meaningful. I thank Ed Cox for his past dedication and leadership of the Council."

Lenfest, a Madison Council member for more than 15 years, has a long history of entrepreneurship and, along with his wife, Marguerite, philanthropy. He started his media career with Triangle Publications Inc. of Philadelphia, which at the time owned TV Guide, Seventeen magazine and many other properties.

In 1974, Lenfest and two partners formed a cable television company. It grew from just 7,600 subscribers to become one of the top 12 cable TV companies in the United States before it was acquired by Comcast Corp.

Lenfest is a graduate of Mercersburg Academy, Washington and Lee University, and Columbia Law School. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, retiring with the rank of captain. He resides in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

Lenfest serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chair of the Board of the Curtis Institute of Music and chair of the Board of the American Revolution Center. He is also a trustee of Columbia University.

In addition to his support for other initiatives, Lenfest was a central donor in helping the Library secure the 1507 Waldseemüller Map, the first map to depict the New World and use the name "America." The map is often referred to as "America’s birth certificate." He was an early supporter of the Library’s National Digital Library and purchased for its national collection manuscript maps that record the role of the Marquis de Lafayette in America’s fight for independence.

Established in 1990 by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, the James Madison Council is the Library’s primary link to the business community and the first private-sector national advisory body in the Library’s 207-year history. The Madison Council consists of public-spirited citizens dedicated to helping the nation receive the full benefits of the Library’s incomparable educational, scientific and cultural resources. To date, the Madison Council has contributed to the success of more than 300 individual Library projects and activities.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items in a wide variety of languages, disciplines and formats. As the largest repository of the world’s knowledge and American creativity, the Library is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which the United States was founded. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation, both on-site in its 21 public reading rooms on Capitol Hill and in localities through online digital services, reachable at www.loc.gov, which receives more than 5 billion hits annually.

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PR 07-030
02/21/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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