By ERIN ALLEN
On Monday, Feb. 15, on the Washington’s Birthday holiday, the Library offered a special treat for visitors with an open house in the Main Reading Room, the second such event in as many years.
The open house followed several large snowstorms that left more than two feet of snow in the nation’s capital and closed the federal government—including the Library of Congress—for four full days. But visitors were not deterred by the weather.
Some 1,951 guests visited the reading room, with a total of 2,270 visiting the Thomas Jefferson Building, where exhibitions were also open for the day. Tourists and student groups came from across the United States and other countries, with notable numbers from New England and England.
Guests had the opportunity to touch and feel the desks, examine literary materials, take a short tour of the card catalog and watch clips from the “National Treasure” movies, which were filmed on location at the Library. Visitors especially enjoyed looking down the narrow stairs into the Control Room, where characters from the film ran in a chase scene.
“The Library is a really big and cool place with lots of books. It’s fun to be here, just like the movie NT2 was filmed here,” said Elliott, 8, of Massachusetts. “It makes libraries cool, and it is cool to stand where an actual actor stood.”
Brad, a high school sophomore from Austin, Texas, said, “This is my first time ever in Washington, D.C. I am here on a trip for Model UN. This is an amazing place with so much knowledge inside.”
“We called our congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, upon planning our trip to D.C. and we are glad we did. This room and the Library are beautiful,” said Hector from San Francisco.
Reference librarians were also on hand to answer the many questions about the reading room. They also used a computer attached to a large screen to look up books in the catalog, to find maps of visitors’ hometowns and to display the resources that can be found on the Library’s website.
“Over and over, people thanked us for being open and for explaining how they can use the resources of the Library—in person and remotely,” said reference librarian Sheridan Harvey. “So many of the visitors expressed surprise that they could use the Library. Most people think the Library is for members of Congress only.”
Erin Allen is acting editor of the Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.