Without question, the Library of Congress is my favorite part of Washington, DC. Now, there are many museums that are a close second, but none are quite as breath-taking as the largest library in the world.
And, twice each year, the Library of Congress opens its Main Reading Room for a special public open house. Normally, the Main Reading Room is only open to researchers (ages 16+) who have a Reader Identification Card. This Fall, their open house will be on the upcoming federal holiday, Columbus Day, Monday, October 8, 2012 from 10 AM – 3 PM. You’ll have the chance to take pictures, browse through the 70,000+ reference materials, and listen to reference librarians discuss the Library’s vast onsite collections, including services and collections for use in family history research. The Main Reading Room can be found on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, SE, Washington, DC.
The Jefferson Building, which will also be open to the public between 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, features the Great Hall and the Library of Congress exhibitions, which include “Exploring the Early Americas.” Unreserved guided tours of the Thomas Jefferson Building will be offered at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM. Each tour is limited to 40 people and designed to accommodate individuals and families, not large groups.
For those of you with young children, the Library of Congress welcomes children, teens and adults to the Young Readers Center, (Room LJ-G29), a place designed especially for young people. You can bring your child to read books or participate in a story time (suitable up to age eight). Young people are encouraged to explore the center’s library of current and classic books, which can be read onsite. Adults can also read aloud to their children from a selection of preschool-appropriate books by the nation’s best authors and illustrators. This collection of books is noncirculating, and readers are encouraged to check with their school and local public libraries for copies that they can borrow and enjoy at home to complete their reading. The Center is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To get there, you can take the Metro to the Capitol South Stop, served by the Orange and Blue lines. The stop is near the corner of 1st and C Streets SE. Metrobus stops are located near the Library grounds, and schedules can be obtained at the Capitol South subway station.