Posts Tagged ‘Library of Congress’

Attention all bibliophiles, mark your calendar ~ the 16th National Book Festival will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (Washington DC) on 24 September, 2016. It’ll be open from 10am to 10pm and all events are free of charge.

A list of authors already scheduled to attend (from the Library of Congress website):

  • Kwame Alexander, Newbery Medal winner
  • Douglas Brinkley, prize-winning historian
  • Christopher Buckley, author of such satirical works as “Thank You for Smoking”
  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and author
  • Philip Glass, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Winston Groom, author of “Forrest Gump”
  • Stephen King, best-selling, prize-winning author and literacy advocate
  • James McBride, National Book Award winner
  • Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
  • Joyce Carol Oates, prize-winning author of more than 70 books
  • Ed Piskor, alternative comics artist
  • Michael Ramirez, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Diane Rehm, NPR host and author
  • Salman Rushdie, Man Booker Prize winner
  • Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Bob Woodward, Pulitzer prize winner and author of 17 No. 1 best-sellers
  • Luis Alberto Urrea, prize-winning author of “The Devil’s Highway”
  • Gene Luen Yang, Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

More authors expected to sign-on in the coming months.

For those who are unable to attend, but want to follow along, there’s an free app available. Click here.



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It’s easy to impress first-time visitors to Washington DC. A lot of people have a negative preconception of the capital city and they are pleasantly surprised when they see all it has to offer. By far, the most common comment I hear from first timers is “We didn’t realize DC is so green and beautiful.” Followed closely by “There are a lot of good looking guys here.”

Last week, I invited a long time Northern Virginian to go into the city with me. Since she hadn’t been to the city in a long time and had already seen all the typical tourist sites, I decided to expand her horizons a bit.

My first suggestion was for her to visit the Madison Building located at 101 Independence Avenue SE to get her Library of Congress Reader ID card.  The free Reader card gives a person access to multiple reading rooms including the stunning Main Reading Room. It’s best to register online prior to going to the ID office where they will take a photo then print your ID card. It takes less than ten minutes. Click here for all the information needed to obtain a reader ID card.

Library of Congress Reading Room I
Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress the stacks

Once she obtained her card, we decided we should utilize our cards. There are several reading rooms to choose from but, since we’re both interested in photography,  we headed to the Prints and Photographs room. The head researcher was incredibly helpful and we really appreciated her taking the time to explain in detail how to find photos both online and in the reading room.

We then ventured a couple of blocks over to the Russell Office Building  (2 Constitution Avenue) to visit Senator Warren’s (VA-D) office for gallery passes. Both the Senate and House galleries are open to visitors whenever either legislative body is in session. I’ve been to both galleries on a few occasions and find it fascinating to watch our Representatives in action.

The galleries are not part of the U.S. Capitol tour but passes to enter either gallery may be obtained from the offices of your respective Senator or Representative. For International visitors, go to the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center to inquire about gallery passes.

The passes are good for one year (October to October) and when the House of Representatives is not in session, visitors with passes may visit the House gallery on weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm. The House gallery is closed on holidays and sometimes due to unplanned temporary closures.

The Senate gallery is open during scheduled recesses and visitors are admitted to the gallery weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm. The Senate gallery is closed on holidays (unless the Senate is in session), and during any recess or adjournment of less than one week.

Both the Senate and House are closed on weekends, unless they are in session.

To get your gallery passes, you’ll need to visit your respective Senator and Representative. If you’re not sure who your elected officials are, please go to League of Women Voters and enter your zip code.

If you’re a local or frequent visitor, you may want to get your own Reader card to do research or visit a Senate session to see you government in action.Library of Congress rain day II

At the United States Capitol

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After many visits to the Library of Congress located on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, where the only way I could view the Reading Room was from a balcony, it was thrilling to finally walk through the Reading Room and the Main Card Catalog area during the bi-annual Open House. The staff and volunteers provided a lot of interesting information and the card catalog was such a throwback to my high school days.

The Library of Congress originally began inside the US Capitol in 1800 but now consists of three buildings: the Thomas Jefferson Building (1897) is the original building and is separate from the other two, the John Adams Building (1938) and the James Madison Memorial Building (1981). The library collection includes more than 158 million items consisting of more than 36.8 million books and other print materials in 470 languages. It is the largest rare book collection in North America, has over 68.9 million manuscripts and is the world’s largest collection of  legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

The Library is the research arm of Congress and is recognized as the National Library of the United States. As the world’s largest library, it’s a fantastic resource to scholars and researchers. The material is open to those age 16 and older without charge but there are caveats. Check here for information on how to research at the library.

As a book lover, the Library fascinates me. In 2013, the staff responded to more than 636,000 congressional reference requests as well as provided to Congress approximately 23,000 volumes from the Library’s collections. It also registered 496,599 claims to copyright.


Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Library of Congress Reading Room I
Reading Room

Library of Congress Card Catalog
Card Catalog

Library of Congress Lauks to London
Showing her daughter how to use the Card Catalog

Library of Congress reading room
Flangan’s Clock ~ with the observation balcony on either side.

Library of Congress the Dome II
Looking up to the Dome

Library of Congress Dome
Close up of the Dome

Library of Congress Girl Power
The Stacks at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress the stacks
More books at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Main Card Catalog

During your visit to the Library of Congress, don’t miss the Gutenberg Bible which is on display year-round. The bible is the first important book printed in Western Europe using movable metal type and signaled a turning point in the art of bookmaking.The Gutenberg Bible was completed around 1455 at Mainz, Germany and sparked the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world by providing the written word to all people including commoners.

Next time the Reading Room will be open to the public will be President’s Day ~ February 16, 2015.

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