On October 14, 2019, the Jefferson Building opened the doors of the Main Reading Room to the general public, providing tours and a chance to learn about a few of the divisions within the Library of Congress. Staff welcomed 5,437 visitors, including the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Representatives from the Law Library of Congress, Science, Technology & Business, National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, U.S. Copyright Office, Serial and Government Publications, and Local History & Genealogy divisions were in attendance displaying collection materials and discussing their resources.
At our Law Library table, we wanted to show visitors that not all law books are intimidating, multi-volume treatises. With that goal in mind, and because we knew many of the visitors would be families with children, we showcased our collection of biographies on Supreme Court Justices for young readers. Some of the titles included: Louis Brandeis: The People’s Justice, by Suzanne Freedman; Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik; Thurgood Marshall, by Luke Collins, and Sonia Sotomayor: Supreme Court Justice; by Paige V. Polinsky.
We were fortunate to meet many interesting people throughout the event, but a few interactions are worth sharing.
- A former Pepperdine University School of Law professor came to our desk and mentioned that he had written The Criminal Law Color Book and was curious to see if we had it cataloged. He was pleased to learn that we hold two copies in our collection.
- A recent law school graduate and her mother told us that their relative had corresponded with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and they were interested in finding copies of the exchanged letters. We walked them through the online catalog system, explained how to read a catalog entry, and referred them to our colleagues in the Manuscript Reading Room for further assistance.
- Two professional musicians visited our station, looking for copies of their work. Although we are not music experts, we helped them find some of their recorded performances in the catalog. They shared that they were in town playing with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and wanted to know if we had a copy of Mr. Sinise’s recent book. After we found the catalog record, the visitors took a photo with one of our librarians next to the catalog entry and texted it to Mr. Sinise.
Overall, it was a fun day with many opportunities for visitors to learn about the Library, and for Law Library staff to answer questions both within and outside the realm of legal research.
The Library of Congress holds its open house semi-annually. To learn more about events taking place at the Library, click here. To learn more about events hosted by the Law Library throughout the year, subscribe to our email feed.