This week I visited the Library of Congress for the first time. For a book nerd like myself this was not unlike a pilgrimage to a holy place. The building felt like a sacred space (more than many churches I’ve been in). The longer I spent there the more I wanted to understand the world, seek out beauty and truth, and humble myself before the minds of great thinkers, and before the creator. Have you ever been to a place that made you feel that way?
By far, it’s the most beautiful and most extensive library I’ve ever been too. Just being in the presence of that many books made me want to read and write for days. I could also go on and on about the architecture and show you a myriad of snapshots but instead I’ll just stick to the highpoints:
My Favorite Statue: Neptune
This statue of Neptune and his court his outside the main entrance of the library. It’s incredible. My little photo here does not do it justice. There are many, many other great statues within the library. I’m sure I didn’t even get a chance to see them all, much less see them up close. This statue of Neptune, however, just struck me.
My Favorite Book: The Gutenberg Bible
The importance of the printing press cannot easily be overstated. Read anything on world history and you’ll run into a section about the Gutenberg Bible and Gutenberg’s printing press. It can be simply stated that the invention of the printing press with movable type drastically changed the world. Seeing this Bible was literally seeing a piece of world history.
When I saw this Bible it was surrounded by a number of other tourists. I snapped this photo over someone’s shoulder only to realize afterward that we weren’t supposed to be using cameras in that area. (Lucky me!) According to Wikipedia I saw one of forty-eight copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and also, this book is considered the most valuable book in the world.
My Favorite Exhibit: Books that Shaped America
Truth be told, I didn’t get to go to that many exhibits while I was there. My family and I were only able to hang out at the library for about 90 minutes, so I wasn’t able to see and do everything that they had to offer. However, we did walk through this exhibit.
You could probably guess a good number of the books they had displayed (i.e. Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, etc. etc. etc.). However, I was pleasantly surprised by a few of their chosen books. One of my all-time favorite novels was included: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. And my toddler’s current favorite also made the cut: The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
Some day I hope to return to the Library of Congress, get a library card, and spend a full day (or maybe two) reading books and checking out a big handful to read all week. Until then, this brief adventure will have to do. At the very least it’s one of a few book-nerd-pilgrimage-stops I can cross of my list. Now, if I can just figure out how to get to the London Book Fair…