Josh and I have been in Washington D.C. for the last 4 days, just for a sightseeing getaway, and we were delighted to find out this was opening while we were there! We actually didn't know about it until the night before, when Josh bought a copy of the Post and saw an article about it. "Hey, Gret, here's an article about rare books you might like," he said. I couldn't believe it! I read about Jefferson's book collection last month when I read A Gentle Madness. Now it is reconstructed and open to the public for viewing!
The next discovery we made was the next morning after breakfast. We consulted a map and headed off in the general direction of the Library of Congress from the house where we stayed (with the gracious Ingold's). A couple blocks into our jaunt, and there we were! We had no idea we were so close. There was a ceremony taking place on the Library steps where the Librarian of Congress along with a couple Representatives (sorry, can't remember who!) and good old Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin opened the 3 brass front doors to the Library. We were in line right away, and got to enjoy wandering around a rather empty Library of Congress.
Jefferson's library was set up the way he wanted it -- in the shape of a conch shell, so that as you walked into it, you were surrounded by books. He separated them into 3 classifications: Memory, Reason and Imagination. I was delighted to find his section of tragedies, and see which copies were originally his (they marked his original books with a green ribbon marker, the one's replaced with yellow ribbons).
After the Jefferson exhibit started filling up, we walked around reading the quotes on the around the walls when a kind elderly gentleman who worked as a guide encouraged us to visit the main reading room. "It's the crown beauty of the Library" he told us. And it was. Normally, the reading room is only open to those who have a pass, but on this special day it was open to all visitors. And they let us take pictures! We were just crazy about this place. Above us were huge larger than life statues of great writers of different genres -- religion: Moses and St. Paul, art: Shakespeare, etc. We were distanced from the books, of course, but the reading desks were lovely, and Josh and I happened to have our own books along with us!
Of all the places we went on our trip, this was my favorite.