Yesterday we had the extreme and blissful pleasure of passing the morning in Nerd National Park, also known as the Library of Congress. I sit here trying to compose my thoughts into some readable form but I feel like a dog that just got turned loose at a squirrel convention. There was just too much awesome under that roof for me to contain.
First, the architecture is unbelievalbe, like so many other places in DC. To stand in the center of any great room and look up at the dome, the ornate columns, the elaborately detailed ceiling paintings is to be awed and inspired to get all wordy and ridiculous in one's descriptive prose. The gravy here was that we walked in and found that the Lincoln's handwritten draft of the Gettysburg Address was on display, as was one of the three copies of the Gutenberg and Mainz Bibles. I found myself nearly floored already and we had not even reached the actual books.
While I could have stood around staring upward, we did eventually find our way into the main reading room, which was opened to visitors for one of only two days each year. We had planned to visit anyway but on our Capitol building tour Saturday we learned that Monday was one of the open days when you can walk around on the floor and see the card catalog, instead of just the lobby, upper viewing deck and the gift shop. I would have been happy enough just to see the shelves and stacks from behind glass, but walking into the card catalog was crazy cool (I realize I sound like such a nerd here and I really don't care).
Read that sign there in the photo (so that I don't have to type it all up because I am running out of time here). We were having enough fun browsing through the vast array of titles that have been written on subjects ranging from Italian tax law to how to clean early 19th century farm implements. Then it occurred to me that there is truly a listing for pretty much every book ever written and I was off on a mission. In less than five minutes I found it: the card for The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
Downstairs we also checked out (rimshot) the Young Readers Room which is pretty much like any city library and the gift shop, which disappointed me as I could not find the little pillow with the Jefferson quote, "I cannot live without books." But who needs a pillow or a tee-shirt when one has the memory of a glorious morning spent among books, books, and more books.