Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

June 25, 1997

New Library of Congress Vistors' Center Features Tours, Exhibitions, Film, Information Kiosks

A new visitors' center in the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building unites in one place a number of public services that had been scattered throughout the Library as the building underwent a 12-year restoration.

In the Visitors' Center, one can begin a docent-led tour, find out where to see Library exhibitions, view a 12-minute visitors'orientation film, get informational brochures and learn about Library research resources at any of several computer information kiosks. Visitors can also become Library of Congress Associates for $20, which includes a subscription to Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress.

"The democratic process is rooted in a knowledgeable electorate. We hope people will return again and again to the Library as visitors and as researchers, and that they will be proud supporters of the Library's work over the years," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Guided tours begin at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and include newly renovated grand public areas such as the Great Hall and the Visitors' Gallery overlooking the Main Reading Room. Also included are the Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz, on display in the Great Hall. The Gutenberg Bible is one of three perfect vellum copies in the world. It is an early example of printing by individual pieces of movable type. The Giant Bible was hand-lettered and illuminated in 1452-53 in Mainz, Germany, around the same time that Johann Gutenberg began printing his Bible.

Tours for groups of 10 or more are available Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. by prior arrangement eight weeks in advance. Call the Visitor Services Office at (202) 707-2630 for information.

The Visitors' Center is located inside the west front ground-floor entrance of the Thomas Jefferson Building, at 10 First Street S.E., just across from the U.S. Capitol. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The lobby area opens daily at 8:30 a.m. There, visitors can visit the Sales Shop, which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is also a Sales Shop in the Madison Building across Independence Avenue. Its hours are also 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 100-year-old Thomas Jefferson building reopened to the public on May 1 after 12 years of restoration. The Great Hall, the Treasures Gallery, and several exhibitions are the primary features of the refurbished public spaces. The Treasures Gallery, on the second floor of the Jefferson Building, is the permanent home of a rotating exhibition, "American Treasures of the Library of Congress." Same-day, timed-entry tickets to the exhibition are available free from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Visitors' Information Desk. For information about these and advance tickets available commercially, call (202) 707-3834. The exhibition and public areas of the building are barrier-free and accessible to the disabled.

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PR 97-115
ISSN 0731-3527

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