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Posts Tagged ‘Library of Congress’

Keeping it simple today

Keeping it simple today

We’re flying home this afternoon, but there’s time for one last outing before heading to the airport! But first, here’s the outfit du jour. (Well, I’ll pair it with jeans, but you guessed that, right?) I’m keeping it simple today; unlike here, there will be no one to schlep my luggage when I get home. This grey tee will be perfect. It’s a little nippy out there this morning, but a Caramel Apple Cider ought to keep me warm and I’ll walk briskly. I’m going to miss my virtual wardrobe—my real one isn’t nearly as attractive—but I’d like to thank Coldwater Creek for making me look good this last week, even if it was just virtually.

Jill and Paula are ditching me for Mount Vernon this morning. I can’t blame them, I’d love to see it myself. But today I have a different priority . . . and I know all my writing buddies will totally understand when I explain that today is the National Book Festival.
VV Sat - Book Fest Poster

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this until I went to the Library of Congress on Wednesday. They’re setting up tents (aka “pavilions”) on the National Mall today and scores of authors are coming to talk and sign books. And it’s FREE—or paid for by the Library of Congress, I suppose. If that’s the case, I’m quite happy to see my tax dollars at work today.

First up on my personal agenda is John Grisham at the Fiction & Fantasy Pavilion. Next I’ll pop over to the History & Biography Pavilion to see Sue Monk Kidd. (On the way I pass the Teens & Children Pavilion where Paula Deen is holding forth. I can’t see her through the crowd, but I can make out the faint strains of “Butter” floating through the morning air.)

National Book Festival

National Book Festival

Naturally, the very sound of Paula’s voice makes me hungry, but the line at the concession stand is a bit daunting. It’s not my first day in DC, though, and I happen to know the Smithsonian Castle, just behind the History & Biography Pavilion, has a nice little café where I can get a Panini and warm up a bit. Next I’m off to the Mysteries & Thrillers Pavilion for a little chat with Lisa Scottoline. I had to change my return flight to catch her presentation, but I love her books so it was so worth it. Before I know it, it’s time to dash back to the hotel to cram my newly signed volumes into my carry-on (oof!), meet up with the girls, and head home.

Thus ends the virtual vacation. I’ve been keeping a running tally of my virtual expenses, and I think it’s safe to say I won’t be taking this exact trip anytime soon. I had to estimate and do some rounding up—and numbers are not my strong point, ever. But in case you’re curious, here’s how it came out:

Wardrobe: $1,400
Airfare & Hotel: $4,250 (I told you it was a nice hotel)
Tours, Souvenirs, Spa, and Incidentals (cab rides, Metro tickets, tips, etc.): $1,400
Food: $500
TOTAL $7,300

I’m sure I can visit DC for much less in real life—which is a good thing. Otherwise I’d probably abandon hope of ever seeing my nation’s capitol in this life. It’s been grand fun to go there virtually; I hope you enjoyed it! Now I’m going to catch up on all the things I should have been doing this last week instead of researching and writing about my pretend life.

But don’t be a stranger . . . next Friday I’m leaving on a real-life trip. More on that later!

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There’s a 40% chance of rain today, which means it’s a perfect day to stay indoors. As the employee of a publishing company I probably shouldn’t say this, but while there are many, many books I need to read, there are not all that many I need to own. Sorry! Just keeping it real. The rest of you need to buy lots of books, OK? Preferably those published by Thomas Nelson.

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek


Where was I? Oh yes, the library. That would be the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. (I get a little giddy thinking about that.) This is my idea of a cool—dare I say sexy?—librarian outfit. If I had actually finished my MLS instead of dropping out when I a) ran out of money and b) got a job I really liked, this is what I’d like to think I’d wear to work at my state-of-the-art public library. Instead, I’ll (virtually) wear it to the grandaddy of all U.S. public libraries.

The Library of Congress (LOC) was established in 1800; the British proceeded to burn it down 15 years later. But (cue heroic music) Thomas Jefferson saved the day by selling his personal library (more than 6,000 volumes) to the feds for $23,950. Not chump change, but a bargain nonetheless. Get this: his bookshelves were also boxes, so when the books arrived, they were already in order. Tom may have had his issues (don’t we all?) but dang, that man was brilliant.

There is WAY more to this place than books—and if you arrive expecting to see rows of shelves a la your local library, you’re in for a surprise. Books are brought out by request and must be referenced in the library; you can’t check them out. You can virtually turn the pages of Thomas Jefferson’s books, zoom in on architectural features, and much more via kiosks located throughout the building. It’s a very high-tech place! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s see how it looks:

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith


See what I mean? As their site says, “When its doors opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress represented an unparalleled national achievement, the “largest, costliest, and safest” library in the world.”

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible

In the Great Hall are two Bibles: the Giant Bible of Mainz, which represents the end of handwritten manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible, representing the beginning of the printed word. Both were produced in the same city during the same period. The “giant” Bible is 22” x 16”. Imagine hauling that to church every Sunday!

As a singer, I naturally have to visit the Gershwin exhibit. They have manuscript and printed music, lyric sheets and librettos . . . it’s all I can do not to indulge in a little min-concert. What is it about this town that makes me want to sing? I am in a library, however, so I restrain the impulse yet again, and wander off with “Someone to Watch Over Me” playing in my head.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope

The “Bob Hope and American Variety” exhibit is fun, too. He was the speaker at my college graduation (Oral Roberts University) and I somehow scored a seat on the front row for the ceremony. Thanks for the memories, Bob!

Gosh, I haven’t even gotten to the second floor yet. There are all sorts of important historical documents and things to talk about, but in the interest of time I suggest you just go see for yourself: http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Meanwhile, I have to get back to the hotel—Jill just called (you remember Jill, from the opera last Saturday). She and Paula, another friend, decided I was having too much fun here on my own and flew in to DC as a surprise this morning! I’m going to meet up with them and we’ll all go exploring this afternoon. Later!

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