Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Library of Congress

It's been years since I last visited the Library of Congress and to be perfectly honest, had I not had an urgent need for a pit stop while in the neighborhood recently, it might have been many more years before I got around to visiting again.  It's all too easy in a city full of monumental buildings to forget just what those buildings are all about.  In case you're wondering, although the institution itself dates back to 1815, when retiring President Thomas Jefferson donated over 6,000 of his own books to start the collection, the building that stands today across from the Capitol and the Supreme Court dates from the end of the 19th century.    Since that time, the facilities have expanded to include several more buildings to hold its massive collections.  According to the LOC Web site, "The collection of more than 144 million items includes more than 33 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings."

Despite numerous past visits, to see the beautiful reading room or to take in the ever changing exhibits, I had forgotten just how lovely it is.  But don't take my word for it; see for yourself.

And if you're wondering where the picture of the famous dome might be, let me inform you that the main reading room is off limits to amateur photographers.  But there's plenty of snapping going on in the gallery.

My visit that day only allowed for a visit to two exhibits: one featuring objects and manuscripts belong to George and Ira Gershwin, and another of 19th century lithographs of Paris.  But there's lots more to see and with plenty of cold days ahead, I'll be back.


  1. And speaking of pits stops, the LOC has some of the coolest, most elaborate rest rooms in the Western Hemisphere.

  2. I adore this building -- thanks for the reminder to visit it again sometime!

    Cheers from across the Pond,