The Library of Congress

This week with the arrival of a guest I had the unexpected but pleasant occasion to visit the Capitol and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  The dome of the Capitol is currently renovated and therefore surrounded by scaffolds. No photographs there. From the look of things it will be a lengthy process and I am glad I had the opportunity to see, admire, and photograph that landmark a couple of years ago. The Library of Congress remains unchanged and it welcomed me with its splendor once again.

The building, which was established in 1800 by President John Adams, houses a collection of “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.” Its starting collection of 740 books and 3 maps was initially located in the Capitol Building, until it was burned by British army in 1814.

It was a great loss to the man of Congress. Having in mind the future of the growing nation and the need for wisdom and guidance to the men in government, the retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. And what a library that was! His collection of 6,487 books became the foundation of the national library. Thomas Jefferson’s library was not only extensive, but also comprehensive, including books from all branches of knowledge. Jefferson believed that all subjects are important for a thorough understanding of the world and ability to govern the nation wisely. With the nation’s Capitol destroyed, a new building was constructed with the purpose to house the national library. In 1897 the “Congressional Library” moved to its new and permanent location, which quickly became one of the nation’s most picturesque monuments.

The Great Hall

The ceiling

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Displayed in the Commemorative Arch, the Gutenberg Bible is the first book printed with movable metal type in Mainz, Germany in mid 1450s:

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Wisdom in the mezzanine

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The main Reading Room

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