Events · Libraries · Library · Reviews

The Library of Congress a Historical Masterpiece


By Molly Korroch

Living in D.C., we are incredibly lucky to have one of the most amazing and thorough research libraries at our front door. The Library of Congress is equal parts museum, architectural masterpiece, and library.

Walking through the United States Library of Congress is like walking through time. Though this point may seem moot, John Adams established the library for it’s literal purpose: to house reference books for the congress. This occurred in 1800, and of course, within fifteen years, the British had come and burned the whole thing down during the War of 1812.

Soon after, then former President Thomas Jefferson donated his personal library. This collection served as the beginning of the massive—including over 158 million pieces—library we enjoy today.

The library is actually comprised of three buildings. The grandest is the aptly named Thomas Jefferson Building. The building opened to the public in 1897, and before that the collection was housed in the Capitol building.

The architecture of the building is a monument to the volumes it houses. It borrows styles from every corner of history. The intention was to create an amalgamation of the best of the best. On your visit, pay close attention and you’ll see references to famed thinkers, writers, and historical works in every nook and cranny of the building.

The main architect, Paul J. Pelz, created a building, “Perfectly suited to a young, wealthy, and imperialistic nation in its Gilded Age. The materials—marble (15 varieties), granite (400,000 cubic feet), bronze, gold, mahogany—were expensive but would last a thousand years.”


Fast Facts

Place: The Jefferson Building of The Library of Congress

General theme: You name it, they’ve got it. Also, marble upon marble upon marble.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years

Food/Drink: Vending machines and a little coffee shop on the cellar level

Wifi: Yes and No. Check out this list to find out where Wifi is available

Events: Amazing exhibits! Remember those books Thomas Jefferson donated? You can see them! Right now there’s an exhibit on World War I and an exhibit about the history of music in baseball

Appointment necessary: Depends on what you’re researching! Here is a list that includes the hours and whether or not an appointment is necessary for all the Library of Congress reading rooms

If this place were band: Billy Joel — Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (If ever there were an architecturally overdone American amalgamation, this is it.) 

Images via Al Jazeera and The Library of Congress
Libraries · Library · Reviews

Beauty and the Books


By Angelica Cruz

Straight out of a fairytale, Georgetown’s Riggs library is exactly like a scene from Beauty and the Beast. Walking in is like looking at your fairytale dreams come to life.

John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University along with The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Pontifical Council for Culture hosted an event at Riggs library this past Friday Towards a New Economy: Justice, Culture and the Social Market.

As Georgetown students, we have the availability of attending all events hosted by the university including those at Riggs library. GU Book Crew took a trip to main campus to check out the event but mostly to see what the hype was about – and it was worth it.

As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the smell of old books and the sun shining through the windows. The books are climbing up the walls only held back by the rails. The spiral staircase is the only way to get to the books, but its closed. Nonetheless, it is beautiful.

General theme: None, but lets say its fairytale fantasy.

Time of our visit: Friday, 9am

Hours: unavailable – not open to the public 😦

A Brief History: From 1891 to 1970, Riggs Library was Georgetown’s main library. Financed by E. Francis Riggs of the Washington banking firm as a memorial to his late father and to his brother who had attended Georgetown. Riggs one of the few remaining cast iron libraries in the country. It’s used as a reception space and is still used as a library today (meaning you can still check out books as a student).

Food? No 😦

Wifi? Yes, but through the Georgetown wifi!

Drinks? No 😦

Events: Keep up with your GU emails because events are not listed nor public.

Why you should go here: Besides the fact that its beautiful, its historical!

If this place were a band: Beauty and the Beast – A Tale As Old As Times


Libraries · Library · Reviews

Library Review: National Library of Medicine


By Joey Payton

What’s the largest and most accessible repository of biomedical information in the world? Look no further than the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Since the library is inside the NIH campus, you must go through a security inspection. but once you’ve received your visitor’s badge you can explore at leisure.

“Anyone who has ID that can get onto the NIH campus can come into the library,”  said Dr. Wanda Whitney, a librarian and NLM’s Head of User Services.

Healthcare Information at Your Fingertips

With healthcare being among the list of top concerns for Americans, it’s comforting to know that accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information is only a Metro-ride or a click away.

Bibliophiles in the DC area should make an effort to visit the NLM in person because it brings some perks: “The databases that we have a subscription to can only be accessed here (in the NLM),” Whitney said.

Fortunately, the NLM considers the people who can’t visit in-person, “We make our own databases that anyone can use. Just go to our websites. That’s your tax dollars at work,” said Whitney. “We have lots of free resources—almost 300 of them–databases, APIs, websites, apps.”

Keeping History Relevant

Helping people get access to medical information is just one of NLM’s specialties, and it’s been doing this for a long time.

“We are actually older than the National Institutes of Health,” said Whitney. “We used to be part of the Surgeon General of the Army. With legislation, we became part of the public health service, and moved from downtown D.C. to this campus.”

NLM continues to show how medical history has contemporary implications through its ‘History of Medicine’ division. One focus of this division is creating compelling medical history exhibits. “The current exhibit that we have is in conjunction with Mount Vernon. It’s about how the slaves were responsible for all the cooking and the nutrition [on Mt. Vernon],” said Whitney.

According to Whitney, the NLM is also home to some special collections, most notably, a Nobel Prize recipient’s writings. “We have Marshall Nirenberg’s writings from when he was working on his discovery. He was a scientist here at NIH so we have his lab notebooks, and his medal—his Nobel Prize for his confirmation of the structure of DNA,” Whitney said.

NLM’s can be enjoyed in-person, online or in various cities with the traveling displays, Whitney said.


Extending NLMs Impact

The NLM’s institute status grants it the ability to give grants (pun intended). “When you’re an institute then we also get money so we can do grants as well, just like the National Cancer Institute or any of the other institutes,” said Whitney. “The grant money we give out is for topics like using bio-informatics to improve health because that’s our focus.”

Along with grants, NLM does outreach with schools and libraries across the U.S. and its territories.

If you’re a lover of books and knowledge, I can’t think of a better place to satiate one’s appetite for medical information than Bethesda’s NLM.

Fun fact/shameless plug: I discovered this library on my way home from a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (My wife, Jancy, and I found out that we’ll become the proud parents of a baby–watch the gender reveal!)

Fast Facts

Place: National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD

General theme: World’s largest repository of biomedical literature

Hours: Monday-Friday; 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

A Brief History: The NLM started in 1863 as a small collection of medical books and journals in the office of the United States Army Surgeon General. In 1962, the collection moved to the National Institutes of Health.

Food/Drink: Yes. Dining Center located in NLM annex, Lister Hill National Center of Biomedical Communications. No food or drinks are allowed in the reading rooms.

Wifi: Yes.

Appointment necessary: No, but remember your ID!

If this place were band: Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier