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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Not your local library

It started snowing this morning soon after I got out of bed around 9 o'clock, and continued doing so until sometime after noon. The ground was soon coated with the white stuff, but it quickly melted away once the snow stopped falling. Still, it was enough to put my daughter in a happy, bouncing mood as we walked down the road to the Metro station. Our destination this afternoon: the Library of Congress...

...but first it was lunchtime, at a Mexican restaurant close to the Capitol South Metro stop. 

The Library of Congress has three buildings, but we focused on the most attractive one, the ornate Thomas Jefferson Building, completed in 1897.

Dressed for the weather

My daughter shows by example how the U.S. Capitol Building lies across First Street from the Thomas Jefferson Building

You know who this is, and you are not surprised to find his bust on the outside of the library

Looking up at the ceiling of the Great Hall, a space filled to the brim with marble walls, inscriptions, mosaics and murals. The Library of Congress is another of Washington, D.C.'s architectural gems, but photography was restricted in many parts of the building. 

One of the items off-limits to photographers is the library's copy of the Gutenberg Bible. On the opposite side of the Great Hall sits the Giant Bible of Mainz.

From the Great Hall, we went upstairs. The Minerva painting above is located outside the visitors gallery to the Main Reading Room.

The Main Reading Room is beautiful, but photography is also forbidden. Visitors are only allowed to view it from the gallery (tours are available), but anyone over the age of 18 can use it after registering with the library.

There are exhibitions to be seen in the library - the ones we saw upstairs covered the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the American Civil War and the library's collection of Hebrew/Yiddish materials. Photo-taking was forbidden, of course, including of Thomas Jefferson's fantastic library (pictured above). Jefferson donated his vast collection to the library after the British burned down the original national library (housed in the Capitol) in 1814.

After seeing what was upstairs, we walked back down to the Great Hall...

...and then made our way to the basement, where there were further exhibits and reading rooms (the Young Readers Room was closed today, unfortunately). Here, Amber watches a 1932 cartoon, Betty Boop for President.

Back outside, my daughter shows off her "Passport to Knowledge"

A final look back at the Thomas Jefferson Building in the late afternoon sunlight, before heading back to the Metro station for the return trip home.


  1. Five years ago when we went to DC, Rob ended up with a fever and I toured the LoC all by myself. It was my favorite part of that trip (except for ending our tour down in NC with Gary and his family).

    1. I hope to go back on a weekday afternoon someday when I have time, and make use of the reading rooms.