The Library of Congress (in my opinion) has to be one of the coolest places in the world. I love books and this is the ultimate for a book lover. It has over 138 million items in its collection. That’s right – I said 138 MILLION.
But, the Library of Congress has a treasure trove of cool things other than just books. This includes George Washington’s copy of the Constitution, the first map of the United States, and it even has the contents of Abe Lincoln’s pockets from the night he died.
The Library of Congress dates back to April 24, 1800. It was then that President John Adams signed an act of Congress that moved the seat of government from Philadelphia to Washington. Part of that act appropriated $5,000 so books could be purchased for use in Congress. Back then, the Library of Congress had 740 books and 3 maps. It now has (hold on, this will take a while and surely will change even as I am typing it!) among other things: 30 million cataloged books, 58 million plus manuscripts, over a million U.S. government publications, a million issues of world newspapers, 33,000 bound newspaper volumes, half a million microfilm reels, 4.8 million maps, 2.7 million sound recordings, and even over 6,000 comic books.
I have never been to the Library of Congress. We took a trip to D.C. recently and it was on my list of stuff to see. But, the day we were supposed to go, my dear husband came down with the stomach flu and we had every other day so jam packed, that we just could not fit it in to our schedule. Which might have been a good thing – my husband may never have gotten me out of there!
Now the History Channel (wait, it is just History) is bringing the Library of Congress to us! The vaults will be opened to the viewing public for a series of specials and documentaries. James Billington, the librarian of Congress said, “We’re pleased to join forces with History in this effort that will help better fulfill our mission of making knowledge more accessible and useful to the Congress and the public.” Abbe Raven, president and CEO of History channel owner A&E Television Networks said this will “result in millions of Americans having better access and knowledge of history by utilizing the collections of one of the nation’s greatest institutions.”
So, I missed the Library of Congress this trip. Until I can make it back to D.C. and see it in person, I will just have to watch it on television.