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A Rare Opportunity to Explore (and Take a Few Photographs)

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(The following is a guest post from Michelle Springer in the Office of Strategic Initiatives.)

On Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, you’re invited to a special public event. Twice each year, the Library of Congress opens its magnificent Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., for a public open house. This is a rare opportunity to take photographs in one of the most beautiful public spaces in Washington D.C., not normally open to photographers. (Sorry, no tripods.)

At the Spring Open House earlier this year, members of the Library’s Flickr team invited photography enthusiasts to come and take pictures of the Main Reading Room and upload them to Flickr with a special tag. Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints, wrote a post about this well-attended experience. In the weeks that followed, we enjoyed looking at all the tagged images in Flickr, then created three galleries to share the images. As Katherine put it so well, she was “impressed by how the participating photographers collectively showcased not only the grandeur of the Main Reading Room’s art and architecture but also the sense you get there of a living think tank where old ideas can be explored and new ideas conceived.”

“Books and Reading” is the theme for this Fall Open House photography event. Apply your creativity and imagination and look for images in either the Main Reading Room or Great Hall that express this theme. The books and reading theme can be conveyed many ways—including the painted, carved and real books that fill these rooms; the printers’ marks from printers and publishers on the walls in the Great Hall; authors represented in murals and statues; and in the broad sense of allegorical figures that inspire reading. We know you’ll find a lot of inspiration.

Printing Press mural in “Evolution of the Book series,” by John W. Alexander, located in the East Corridor of the Great Hall. 2007. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. 2007

Upload your photos to your Flickr account with the tag LCFall2013, and we’ll create galleries on the Library’s Flickr Commons account to share your images from the day in the weeks that follow.

Want to do more? Make your own photo treasure hunt by looking for photos of the Thomas Jefferson building in the resources listed below and then try finding the real thing in person when you visit. Library staff will be available in the Main Reading Room to help if you get stumped. Can’t attend? Take a look at these great resources online anyway!


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