Weekend Wanderer

Tales of Wisdom and Generosity, at the Library of Congress

Libraries hold a sacred place in my heart.

I can’t count the number of times as a kid I would pedal my purple bike down to the library and fill my backpack with as many books as I could handle. It was magical.

Fast forward a few years, and trade the bike in for a plane:

Library of Congress

The Library of my dreams.



Susie must know me well, because the Library of Congress was our first stop (after Caribou of course) in our whirlwind tour of DC. Walking into the great hall was surreal:

Library_of_Congress_Great_Hall_-_Jan_2006

Just look at the expansive grandeur!

I think we humans love big open spaces, because it makes us feel like we are part of something greater. Or maybe its just that we need space to run around.

Either way, the great hall is good for reflection and sliding around in your socks!

We saw so many things, and soaked up so much wisdom from ages past that was literally written on the walls:

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These quotes were emblazoned over every archway in the great hall, inspiring all who pass with words like these: “TOO LOW THEY BUILD WHO BUILD BENEATH THE STARS.”

It’s the kind of thing that silences you as you read, bearing a weighty importance that leaves no room for words of your own (and really, how could they compare?).

Perhaps my favorite thing, besides these quotes, was the Jefferson library exhibit:

jefferson2

Thomas Jefferson’s personal book collection

In the early 1800’s, the official library of Congress burned down, accounting for a total loss of around 3,000 books. Just reading that today is pretty shocking, so I can only imagine how devastating it was to Congress to lose everything back in the day.

Yet loss often draws out pure generosity as people share their hearts and possessions to help ease the pain.

Such was the case with Thomas Jefferson. He heard of the tragedy, and offered up his personal book collection to Congress.

jefferson1

So many books, so little time!

He was incredibly proud of this collection he amassed, and rightly so, since it contained upwards of 6,000 volumes! This was a grand gesture on Jefferson’s part, since it was the work of a lifetime. He sacrificed something precious for the greater good in a quiet act of heroism.

In one fell swoop, Jefferson doubled what the library contained before the fire. Now that is my kind of happy ending!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we made it here:

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The actual library – commanding, and gorgeous

library-of-congress2

What else is there to do, but stare?

There are so many other wonderful things to see here, like the Gutenberg Bible, and an original copy of the Gettysburg Address; You just have to go discover it for yourself! After all…

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

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One thought on “Tales of Wisdom and Generosity, at the Library of Congress

  1. Pingback: Museum Madness, Part One. | Weekend Wanderer

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