The Ultimate Library

During Spring Break, I went to Washington, DC.  One of my favorite places that we visited was the Library of Congress.  This library–actually encompassing several buildings–is definitely the ultimate library.  I could have happily spent days roaming through its rooms, but I didn’t.

The Library of Congress holds millions of artifacts.  In addition to books, you can browse photographs, videos, audio recordings, and manuscripts of all kinds.

This is the mission of the Library of Congress:

“The Library’s mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.”

I’m not sure how much time members of Congress actually spend in the Library, but I’m glad this place is collecting, preserving, and sharing knowledge for our benefit.  They even share it on their website.  Here are just a few of the things you can explore:

  • Some of the photograph collections include cartoons, the Civil War (want to impress your history teachers?), and baseball cards.
  • At the Center for the Book, you can read classic books online, watch author webcasts (Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, RL Stine, Katherine Patterson, Neil Gaiman and many more) , or enter the writing contest Letters about Literature.
  • You can relive the history of our country through Chronicling America, which shares newspapers from 100 years ago.
  • The National Jukebox lets you listen to streaming audio of recorded sounds from our nation’s history–at least from the time of audio recordings!  “The Gems from the Jukebox” includes a little bit of everything:  opera, ragtime, Hawaiian music, comedy routines and more.
Just walking into the building is enough to make my jaw drop.  The walls and ceilings are covered with mosaics and paintings:
Here’s a closeup of one of the ceiling mosaics:
In case we forgot where we were, it was inscribed right on the walls:
I love the quotes that fill the walls.  I got a tee-shirt with my favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson:  “I cannot live without books.”  I agree, Thomas!
These last two pictures aren’t from the Library of Congress, but I wanted to share them.  This stack of books is four stories tall!  It is in the Lincoln Center for Education and Leadership right across from Ford’s Theater.  That’s a lot of books about Abraham Lincoln.
Finally, a trip to Washington, DC, has to include a trip to at least one Smithsonian.  We visited two:  the America History Museum (I love the dresses of the First Ladies)  and the Air and Space Museum.  This is me with my hero–Amelia Earhart–or at least with one of her planes.

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