Monday Pawpro took advantage of the biannual open house offered in the Main Reading Room of The Library of Congress within the Thomas Jefferson Building just across the street from the U.S. Capitol. What a great space surrounded by an ever-growing collection of print materials so vast it boggles the mind. The Library of Congress calls it, ” . . . the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, with 145 million items in its collections . . .” I overheard one employee saying the collection grows by 10,000 pieces daily! And, yes they still have a functioning card catalog which has become less of a research tool and more of a historical relic for young visitors.
One twenty-something aged girl proudly boasted of using a card catalog once in her short-lived, past. Never fear all volumes and collections are now searchable in a digital directory that took 12 years to complete, which might be the definitive data entry hell.
One of the major attractions is the personal library of Thomas Jefferson provided by the former president as a replacement following the burning of the congressional library during the War of 1812. Of the 6,000 plus books in the collection, some 2,000 are the actual books Jefferson possessed. The others were lost in subsequent fires in 19th Century. The impressive site is preserved behind glass enclosed, climate controlled bookshelves, so visitors make walk around on all sides. The collection is augmented by a series of kiosks, which describe the intimate details of the collection such as the gifted book from John Adams with a handwritten note to Jefferson following a period of estrangement between the two Founding Fathers.