Library of Congress

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101 Independence Avenue South East, Washington, DC, USA - 1-202-707-8000

Library of Congress Washington Reviews

WalterC WalterC
389 reviews
Review for the Thomas Jefferson Building only Jul 16, 2016
Located across the street from the Capitol building, the Library of Congress was established in 1800, serving as its namesake, as it has a huge collection of books, along with other important media, like film. Closest Metro stop is Capitol South, and it can be accessed from an underground tunnel, which is connected to the United States Capitol Visitor Center.

The Library of Congress actually consists of 3 separate buildings, all of which are named after Presidents. They would be Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Adams. This review will just focus on the Thomas Jefferson Building, as it is the only one that is really open to visitors.

Entering inside the building, starting at the Great Hall, which is enough to check out in itself. Almost like some church or palace building in Europe, there is just amazing artwork to see around the place. Like the ceiling and the mezzanine areas, with “The Virtues” and more. Also, there are displays of the Gutenberg and Mainz Bibles, along with the Minerva Mosaic.

The main highlight was overlooking the Main Reading Room, which has nice artwork around in it as well. This can only be seen on a walkthrough, on a deck above it. You cannot enter the room itself, unless you have a user card with photo ID. Also, if you have seen the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”, then this room may look familiar to you.

There are some exhibitions that may be worth checking out. Not sure if they are permanent or temporary, like “Exploring the Early Americas”.

Also, there is a display of Thomas Jefferson’s library, with most of the books having a different color ribbon in them. The green ones were in his very original books. Not recalling the other ones. But these were donated after the War of 1812, when the city was burned down. And with it, the books were lost.

Between the amazing artwork around the Great Hall, the display of Jefferson’s library, and seeing the Main Reading Room, those are enough reason to check this place out. Also, there are additional exhibitions that may be worth a look as well. And admission is free!

Combined with a visit to the US Capitol, this place is definitely worth it, especially when the weather outside is not so nice!
library building
tunnel connecting to US Capitol
Great Hall
statue in left side of Great Hall
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vicIII says:
We were honoured and privileged to have a guided tour of the Library of the Congress.
Posted on: Sep 26, 2017
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Africancrab Africanc…
777 reviews
Beautiful Architecture with Paintings, Sculptures and Murals Jul 05, 2012
Yesterday my family and I, drove down to Washington with the mind to tour the Library of Congress and City Hall. It was an incredibly hot day, so we did not spend much time outside except walking from the parking garage to the Library. We got there an hour and a half before the library was due to close. We went through security and checked with the front desk for information on where and how to get library cards. Mark and I had agreed we would get the library cards before we could tour, and so we did. That part was interesting in itself. Apparently if you want a library card you have to walk almost a quarter mile (perhaps a little exaggerated) to the Madison Building. Once we were there though, the process was simple; show a valid identification (passport or drivers license), get paperwork to fill in, proceed to step two (fill out a computer information form and submit), step three get photo taken and card is issued. The team at the Madison building was incredibly efficient and pleasant except for the gentleman who took my photo, he looked like he did not like his job much or did not like my look. I could not tell which one it was, but I could care less.

The library of congress is the mecca of all books. Instituted for Congress in 1800, it remains the single most powerful tool for Congress. Only Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, high ranking members of government and Library employees can check out books. It is the congressional library and has all books ever published; at least that is what they say. It has an incredible collection of books that are available upon request. Access to the main reading rooms is restricted to researchers and patrons who have access. Access is by having a library card issued by the library.

Specialty books like the collection of Bibles intrigued me greatly. Mark and I have planned to return every so often until we have seen all sections of the library. Exhibits like Jefferson’s library and Carl Jung’s Red book are nothing short of outstanding!

Every floor, ceiling and wall in the library is a work of art. I felt like I was in the Sistine Chapel or the Basilica of St. Peters in Rome literally; that’s how beautiful the library is. One gets that feeling of new yet old. It is by far the most beautiful building interior I have seen in all of Washington, and I have seen quite a few. The art on the walls and different quotes on the walls of the upper floor are fascinating.

With library cards in hand, we had access to the main reading room, not just seeing it through sound proof glass on the balcony above. Because we had little ones with us, we did not see much or stay to read. We have planned a three hour visit next time; I cannot wait to read some of the old bibles and visit the rare books section of the library. The depth of the collection it represents makes this library a work to marvel at. Tours are available at no fee, take time to go on one of them to get the best out of your visit. It is a big library with so much to see and read.

Because it is a library, I can see why many tourists would overlook it. But it is not just any library, it is ‘the’ library; the national treasure of the United States. It is intriguing, fascinating, marvelous, beautiful, weird (I heard someone refer to it so), you will love it. No photographs allowed in the reading rooms.

Admittance is Free!

Operating Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

PS: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Library of Congress
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Africancrab says:
Yes indeed Ian, you can loose yourself in there. CJ you must go.
Posted on: Jul 10, 2012
ccjbeachbum says:
wow pictures make me want to go there - great review
Posted on: Jul 10, 2012
Dr_Seuss says:
Sounds like you could lose yourelf for weeks in there 8)
Posted on: Jul 07, 2012
X_Drive X_Drive
837 reviews
Libraries like no other. May 21, 2010
The Library of Congress is made up of three full block sized buildings. The first and most recognizable is the Thomas Jefferson Building, which faces the U.S. Capitol just across the street. It opened 1897. There are also the John Adams Building, which was opened in 1939 and the James Madison Building which was opened in 1980. They are all open to the public and the Thomas Jefferson building has tours and many exhibits. We spent a few minutes inside the James Madison Building but did not go inside the John Adams Building which has the most exhibits and we didn’t take the tour but enjoyed the architecture of the buildings very much.
The sign at the front of the Thoma…
The Thomas Jefferson Building
The Thomas Jefferson Building
The Thomas Jefferson Building
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
tj1777 tj1777
378 reviews
The most beautiful building in Washington Oct 20, 2008
The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world and you can just walk in the door and have a look in possibly the most beautiful building in all of Washington DC - the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress building. If you are going for a tour of the Capitol building you may as well use the time you have to wait for your tour and go and have a look inside the library.

When you walk in the door you will go and see an amazing building - but there are not many books around you. The only books you are likely to see is a few old bibles - one of them the Guttenberg bible the oldest printed book in the world. It is a bit strange being in the biggest library in the world and not being surrounded by books - but if you go and have a look around you will see a room which is a designated study area for people using the collection of books.

The oldest part of the library's collection is Thomas Jefferson's old personal library which he sold to the library of congress. He did this because in the war of 1812 to 1814 the British burned the original collection of books belonging to the library of congress. Hence after the war it was basically a library without any books and Jefferson had a huge collection which he could sell. Of course Jefferson being Jefferson just started a new collection in his home of Monticello.
The Thomas Jefferson Library of Co…
Inside the hall of the library
The roof
The hall of the library of congress
marg_eric says:
Congrats on this featured review! grz. Marg :)
Posted on: Jun 14, 2009
bernard69 says:
Posted on: Jun 14, 2009
Jacqinmiddenamerika says:
Congrats on your featured review!! Very beautiful pictures!! :-)
Posted on: Jun 14, 2009
Shaon Shaon
24 reviews
Thats one big library! Jun 19, 2008
World largest library, and probably the most beautiful as well. The building is amazing! There is so many little details that you can spend couple hours just to amazed. There is some free tours during the day and that is the only way to see Thomas Jefferson Buildings amazing Main Reading Hall. Or so that guy told us, but I didn´t stau that tour long because the tour guide was really boring. So I just wandered off. There is always couple exhibitions going on and when I went there they were really interesting and well made. It is really nice place to spend hour or two or even more!
Andy99 Andy99
621 reviews
The Library of Congress May 08, 2007
The Library of Congress is the national library of the USA. It is a library, and a vast one, with all sorts of books, maps, photos, films, music, musical instruments, folk music recordings, manuscripts, personal papers and more in its collections. It’s not just for Congress, but is a cultural repository for the world.

The visitor to Washington may want to come to the Library of Congress for two reasons: to see the many exhibits of cultural artifacts from the collections or to actually use the library for personal research.

The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 and was first located in a room in the Capitol building. The collection was destroyed in 1814 when the Capitol was burned by invading troops during the War of 1812. The destruction led to the famous gift by Thomas Jefferson of his extensive personal library to rebuild the Library of Congress.

The Library today consists of three city block-sized buildings on Capitol Hill. The Thomas Jefferson Building, facing the U.S. Capitol and opened 1897, is the most recognizable to visitors. Along with it are the John Adams Building (opened 1939) and the James Madison Building (opened 1980). All three are open to the public, but the Library of Congress Experience (interactive visitor center), the majority of the public exhibits, and the decorative Great Hall are located in the Jefferson Building. It’s here where you can see items like the Gutenberg Bible or the Waldseemüller Map.

Music performances in the Coolidge Auditorium and film series in the Pickford Theater are also held at the Library. Check the Library's web site for current exhibits and schedule of other activities.
Jefferson Building, Library of Con…
Great Hall, Library of Congress
Great Hall Library of Congress
The Gutenberg Bible

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