Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Library of Congress

At age 69, I finally made it to the Library of Congress! I was unaware, until a few days ago, that there are three buildings comprising the LOC, and that the Thomas Jefferson Building—with its elaborate neo-classical structure—has such a radiantly beautiful interior.

Hubby and I spent an hour there reflecting on a special exhibition of Herblock’s political cartoons spanning eight decades that brought back memories of all the things wrong with government over the years. Blunders and accomplishments of past administrations became immediate again as we lingered over his poignant timeless cartoons. Some cartoons made me want to cry and others prompted a deep, satisfying nod—as if a friend had just pinpointed a trouble I’d not been able to articulate.

But my tears were unstoppable when I stepped into Thomas Jefferson’s library—and stood surrounded in a circle of books of his own collection. I don’t think I ever knew that his sale to the nation of his personal library of over 6,000 volumes enabled our country to reestablish its official library after a fire destroyed the country’s collection of books. Jefferson knew a national library was essential if our nation were to endure. The magnitude of Jefferson’s interests, and his singular way of organizing his book collection brought him alive to me in a new way. I have rarely been that moved by the sight of books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Several years ago while attending the celebration of the 40th year of the Peace Corps they had a reception and the Library of Congress. I have to say it was a wow to be in those hallowed halls. It is a magnificent building. Makes one feel kinda proud to be an American.