The Most Fascinating Libraries of the World 07 – Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

I visited a friend’s blog one day and I was literary blown over by a picture of one of the most fascinating libraries around – Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. It also gave me an idea of a series of posts about the best, the most beautiful, the strangest and the biggest libraries there are. The libraries that can make you drool, where you would be able to spend an indefinite period of time without noticing, where you would like to live and die till the end of the world (if they only served coffee and cake that is). Perhaps you can’t visit them all but what is the Internet for? I’ll try to illustrate my posts as well as it is only possible, providing, I hope, a nice tour for every visitor around. Enjoy!

Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States of America, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in four buildings in Washington, D.C., as well as the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and number of books. The head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress, currently James H. Billington.

The Library of Congress was instituted for Congress in 1800, and was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century. After much of the original collection had been destroyed during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson sold 6,487 books, his entire personal collection, to the library in 1815. One of the Library buildings, (presented above) is called Thomas Jefferson Building.

Northeast Pavilion. View of Mural and coffers ...
Northeast Pavilion. View of Mural and coffers in Ceiling dome. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The library is open to the general public for academic research and tourists. Only those who are issued a Reader Identification Card may enter the reading rooms and access the collection. The Reader Identification Card is available in the Madison building to persons who are at least 16 years of age upon presentation of a government issued picture identification (e.g. driver’s license, state ID card or passport). However, only members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, their staff, Library of Congress staff and certain other government officials may actually remove items from the library buildings. Members of the general public with Reader Identification Cards must use items from the library collection inside the reading rooms only; they are not allowed to remove library items from the reading rooms or the library buildings.

The Madison Building (above) is also home to the Mary Pickford Theater, the “motion picture and television reading room” of the Library of Congress. The theater hosts regular free screenings of classic and contemporary movies and television shows.

Main reading room
The Library of Congress has several halls with exhibits such as: The Bible Collection – A contrast between the Giant Bible of Mainz that marks the end of the handwritten book, and the Gutenberg Bible that heralds the explosion of knowledge from the printing press. Exploring the Early Americas – An examination of the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and Europeans, and the resulting changes caused by the meeting of the two worlds. The exhibition includes two extraordinary maps by Martin Waldseemüller created in 1507 and 1516, which depict a world enlarged by the presence of the Western Hemisphere. Creating the United States – Insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination, vision, collaboration, and compromise played in the unprecedented formation of a self-governing country.
No, these girls are not in space, they are in the library…

Have you ever visited this place? Would you like to?
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