“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Who has a library card from the Library of Congress???
You know what you can do with a library card from the Library of Congress???
YOU CAN GO IN.
And go in, we did.
This place is enormous.
I mean, all the buildings in D.C. are enormous, but you just don’t know enormity. You experience enormity.
And then, we went in.
Ben and I have a foundation of reading together which have spanned over two decades. We have reading chairs in our home specifically dedicated to reading in front of the fire. Every room in our house has bookshelves, and the shelves near our desks are double stacked with books.
And we ain’t stopping. We just gettin’ started.
Needless to say, we were in heaven in this quiet hamlet, and we had no inclination to leave.
Wait, how ’bout we zoom in a little…
See that figure, leaning on her arm and sitting in the great, quiet Reading Room of the Library of Congress?
That is me.
I am reading.
In the Reading Room.
I cannot tell you the joy I felt sitting there. It may be something small to others, but to me it was something very special.
Women have had a…complicated…relationship with Libraries.
The relationship has not always been cold or closed to women, but it has also not been as open and easy as it was for me this week.
Particularly in University libraries: “In 1967, Lamont Library (in Harvard) allowed women access.”
This happened when my parents were growing up, after Harvard first opened its doors in 1636. Well over 300 years had passed before the regal university could stomach the idea of women in their libraries.
Progress has been made even this year, as Dr. Carla Hayden (link!) was just sworn in as not only the first African American Librarian of Congress, but the first woman in this seat in the history of our nation!
I mean, how can you not be swathed with exhilaration at this news?!
Besides this heavy moment, we also got to wander in the Jefferson wing, which was equally as amazing. They had all my favorite books on display, to boot!
…how did they know??
Plus they have the Gutenberg Bible, and I got to take a peek into the original office of the Head Librarian…so jealous of this office.
Most of all, though, was when we got to go through Jefferson’s Personal Library. Like, the actual books Jefferson brought into his home to study.
Are you kidding me.
Which was humbling…and delightful. I loved seeing the patterns in the books. He has the same patterns that Ben has with studies, from my eyes. Ben has seasons of study, where he will spend months (sometimes years) going through one subject until he knows it backwards and forwards. From philosophies, to theologies, to literature, to business, to poetry…he is a diverse man with incredible tastes.
But all in all, the majority of the books he has are on systems and systems’ management.
Jefferson had the exact same pattern: Lots of books from one trunk of study, but interspersed with seasons of branches, building a solid tree of knowledge.
(See what I did there)
I was surprised how much Opera was in his library…that was interesting to see.
We definitely went to the Library a few times.
I told Ben he could just leave me there and go home to fetch the kids…so we could all just live there forever.
He said no 😦