Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spofford's Book Palace


On a recent trip to Washington, D. C. I was able to make a quick visit to the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, one of many visits I have made over the years. The building never fails to be awe inspiring. The person most responsible for bringing about the construction of this magnificent building was Ainsworth Rand Spofford, the sixth Librarian of Congress. Spofford referred to the building as the "Book Palace of the American People". I scanned the first image shown above from the Harper's Weekly issue of February 27, 1897. It shows the crowded conditions in the old Congressional Reading Room in the Capitol just before the move to the new building. Spofford actually appears in the illustration. He is the tall bearded man walking from the right. The second image is the cover of a folder of postcards of the library. It calls the building "The World's Most Beautiful Building". The final image is a picture of the Great Hall which I took on my recent visit. It's a shame that at least one of the major buildings of the Library of Congress couldn't have been named for Spofford. After all, Spofford had more to do with making the Library of Congress the world's greatest library than did Jefferson, Adams, or Madison. More about the buildings of the Library of Congress can be found HERE.

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