"Library of Congress" Top 5 Page for this destination Washington D.C. Off The Beaten Path Tip by Ewingjr98
Washington D.C. Off The Beaten Path: 391 reviews and 720 photos
The Library of Congress is the national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. This library is housed in three buildings and it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and holds the largest number of books. The Library was established in 1800 and bolstered by the donation of Thomas Jefferson's personal library in 1815, after the British destroyed the library's original collection in 1814. The Library of Congress was also strengthened when the Smithsonian Institution donated its entire collection of 40,000 volumes. This library receives copies of every book, pamphlet, map, print, and piece of music registered in the United States.
I have walked by the library a few times, but never had any interest to go in until I was in the brand-new $600 billion Capitol Visitors Center (only 300 percent over budget!), and I saw there is now a tunnel connecting to the LOC. Wanting to avoid the huge crowds at the Capitol, I walked the quiet, almost deserted corridor under 1st Street SE. I strolled past the security station...luckily the security at the Capitol Visitors Center is enough. I then wandered up the stairs and saw an old lady sitting quietly at a visitors (or security?) desk in the main Thomas Jefferson Building so I asked her sheepishly what I could do or see here. She said on the lower level was a Bob Hope display plus a Gershon room, but everything else to see was upstairs. I knew about Gina Gershon from the movie Showgirls, so I was all about checking that out! Too bad the exhibit was actually about a guy named Gershwin who apparently played the piano. Such disappointment I face at every turn.
When my acute dejection subsided and my tears dried, I wandered upstairs and was instantly amazed by the bright Great Hall with its white marble columns and stairs along with the predominantly yellow and blue mosaics covering the ceilings. I continued up the next flight of stairs and my first stop was the "Creating the United States" display then the Thomas Jefferson Library with a sterile environment of circular shelves displaying the man's original books, numerous others that were purchased to restore the original library, plus blanks for missing books. I next walked over to the nearby Main Reading Room Overlook which gives a stunning perspective into a fairyland working library... how could anyone research in this beautiful environment? Finally, I walked back downstairs and checked out the Giant Bible of Mainz and the Gutenburg Bible (one of only four originals in the whole world!). It took me another 20 minutes to find my way out the lower front doors of this amazing library.
othercontact: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
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