Who ever knew that the Library of Congress has a happy hour every Thursday night?! I surely didn’t!! To my surprise, the Library of Congress stays open every Thursday evening until 8pm for their weekly program known as Live at the Library. Last Thursday, my friends Brianna, Brittany, and I decided to surprise Brittany for her birthday with a trip to Live at the Library!
About: The Library of Congress is the research library that serves as Congress’ research arm. It is also the United States’ oldest federal cultural institution and largest de facto national library. Live at the Library allows visitors to stay at the Library of Congress until 8pm, take in the building’s gorgeous European-like architecture, listen to some live music, admire the exhibits, and enjoy a light snack and drinks at an additional cost (however everything to my surprise was under $10 which if you know for Washington, DC area is a steal for food and drinks!). All visitors must reserve a ticket in advance via a timed entry pass – they’re free do not fret!! – to go and visit and will enter in at the Jefferson Building on 1st Street SE (the only entrance for guests to the library). To reserve a ticket look no further than here: https://loc.usedirect.com/LOC/
Getting there: The closest Metro stop to the Library of Congress, located just behind the United States Capitol Building, is Capitol South – located in the heart of Washington, DC’s gorgeous and well-known Capitol Hill neighborhood. Capitol South Metro station is located on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. There are signs for the Library of Congress all around the Capitol Hill neighborhood making it less challenging even for directionally challenged people like myself to find their way. However, I *did* still get lost on my way there – whoops!! When routing yourself there, it’s best to use the main entrance of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building: 1st Street SE.
Brittany was happily surprised with a birthday trip to the notable Library of Congress! As we walked in, we were able to see the library’s Christmas tree in its main hall along with a Bible on exhibition. One of the coolest features of the Library of Congress’ Christmas tree is the fact that there’s book(s) to represent each of the United States (kind of like the state trees surrounding the notable National Christmas tree!). I was able to find the books for Texas (my Step Dad’s home state), Iowa (Papa’s home state), New Jersey (my home/birth state), North Carolina (my college state), and Virginia (my current and hopefully long-term home state). Each of the state books were painted with beautiful artwork masterpieces all over its covers and rims to represent its uniqueness. We also took several photos in our outfits in front of the tree, too! The Library of Congress Christmas tree is stunning and the fact that it had representation of all of the United States made it so much cooler and all that more special to see, too.
We arrived at the Library of Congress a little after 7pm, so we didn’t have too much time to walk around and enjoy the exhibits and get some wine/snacks (we went to the Pentagon City neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia for that!). There was also a Santa Claus social for kids at the library earlier that day which the staff was cleaning up from. However, we definitely all wanted to come back and spend more time here at the nation’s largest cultural institution. To me, the ceilings, columns, and architecture ALL over the Library of Congress felt as if I were taken back in time to my study abroad days in Italy. I saw a striking resemblance to the Sistine Chapel at The Vatican when looking up at the building’s ceilings! Read a bit more about my time studying abroad in Italy in the Summer of 2018 here: https://pinkchickadee.com/2020/08/06/my-study-abroad-experience-in-tuscany/#/
One of the BEST features of the Library of Congress is the fact that its free and accessible for everyone. Knowing that people from Congress from centuries ago to this very day utilize its resources just as well as any other person can makes me admire the accessibility of the Library of Congress for everyone. When talking with the library’s super sweet docents, I learned that anybody can get a FREE library pass of sorts (forget the exact name of it!) to utilize its resources. The Library of Congress has a genealogy lab (which my Dad and I plan to use in 2023 for family research) and much more that anybody can use with a library pass. At the same time, there are super neat exhibits, including one that we saw on mapping aka my Dad’s heaven! Read more about the Library of Congress and ALL that it has to offer here: https://www.loc.gov/
The Library of Congress is probably my favorite site to see in Washington, DC! It felt just as if I was back in Europe. I definitely plan to go back more in 2023 to research, work, and just take it all in.
XOXO – Katie <3