For today's post I thought I'd share some photos of the Library of Congress and a few fun facts.
|The exterior of the Thomas Jefferson Building, center of the Library of Congress|
10 fun facts about the Library of Congress (LOC)
1. The Library of Congress was established in 1800 and was located inside of the U.S. Capitol building. The idea was to establish an official place to keep reference books for government officials to use. The LOC didn't get its own building until much later. On Nov. 1, 1897 the new Library opened. This building was named the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1980.
2. The Thomas Jefferson Building contains 15 varieties of marble, 400,000 cubic feet of granite, bronze, gold and mahogany. In the center is a huge rotunda that contains artwork that is - in a word - amazing. Ornate. Stunning.
|One angle of the Great Hall at the LOC|
4. The LOC claims the honor of being the largest library in the world. It boasts 162 million items on about 838 miles of bookshelves. Its collection includes books and other print materials, photographs, recordings, maps, sheet music and manuscripts.
|Main Reading Room at the LOC|
5. The original LOC collection was burned by the British on Aug. 24, 1814 when forces set the still unfinished U.S. Capitol on fire. Thomas Jefferson, an avid lover of books, offered to sell his personal collection to the Library in order to "replace the devastations of British vandalism". The collection was purchased for $23,950 in 1815. It contained 6,487 volumes.
6. Congress, after several proposals and a lot of controversy, approved plans move the collection from the Capitol to a new building. The plans for the construction was approved in 1886. The design was decided to be one of Italian Renassance style and was crafted by Washington architects John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz. Construction was managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
|The floor detail in the LOC is beautiful|
8. In the exhibit, the books with the green ribbons are ones that Jefferson himself owned, books with gold ribbons were recent purchases to reconstitute Jefferson's library and no ribbon indicates books that are identical to Jefferson's and were elsewhere in the LOC. Book boxes mark spaces of the books the Library is still hoping to find.
|This is only a small section of Jefferson's grand collection of books. Visitors basically step into a circle showing the entire collection, which is meticulously sorted the way Jefferson placed the books.|
9. Two notable bibles are on display at the LOC in the Great Hall. The handwritten Giant Bible of Mainz and the printed Gutenberg Bible. Both were producted in the mid-1450s.
|The Gutenberg Bible, not a clear photo|
11. Bonus fun fact: There is a tunnel that connects the LOC and the U.S. Capitol. Visitors touring either of the buildings can take the tunnel to get to the other (note: Visitors going from the LOC to the Capitol will be screened by additional security. Visitors going from the Capitol to the LOC have already gone through the extra screening).
Upon entering the Great Hall, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the beautiful detail, but there are lots of other interesting things to see and do. I recommend, if on Capitol Hill, definitely checking it out if you haven't already. The LOC is located next to the Supreme Court. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas.