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The Joys of Jabbing Jefferson

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When revolutionary-turned-president Thomas Jefferson still walked the streets of Washington, D.C., there were people who wanted to give him a good jab with their index finger and hand him a piece of their minds.

These days, here on Capitol Hill, you can give Thomas Jefferson a jab … and dig a little deeper into his mind.

It’s possible because of a set of exhibitions featuring touch-screen interactive stations, all in the Library’s graceful and ornate Thomas Jefferson Building. These exhibits collectively are known as “The Library of Congress Experience.” This offering, available to you for a little over a year now, is winning awards all over the place, and if you visit the Library at First St. S.E. and Independence Avenue and check it out, you’ll find out why.

The Library of Congress Experience places touch-screen stations throughout three exhibitions: Creating the United States, which delves into the collaborative process that led to the major founding documents of our nation; Thomas Jefferson’s Library, featuring more than 6,000 books once in our third president’s personal library that he made available to replace the congressional library torched by the British in the War of 1812; and Exploring the Early Americas, which showcases the amazing pre-Columbian art collection of Library patron Jay Kislak.

There are also touch-screen stations showing off the art and architecture of the breathtaking Thomas Jefferson Building interior and explaining the rarity and relative importance of the Library’s Gutenberg Bible and its Giant Bible of Mainz.

Even better, if you pick up a “Passport to Knowledge” at the orientation desks as you enter the building, you can take just a moment to link your passport to a personalized online account and use the barcode on the passport to “collect” your favorite items in these exhibitions — sending a digitized version of the item to your personal web page.

Won’t be in town to pick up that passport? You can create a personalized web page from home.

About those awards: the latest comes from the GovMark Council, which awarded “Best Overall Marketing Program” to the Experience. There have been about a dozen previous awards, including Best in Show from the HOW Interactive Design Awards, Best in Show and Deployer of the Year from KioskCom, and a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America for Excellence in Integrated Communication.


  1. The Silver Anvil Award was presented to Todd C. Nadrich in 1865

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