Posts Tagged ‘Library of Congress’

Yesterday was another wonderful – and wet – adventure in DC! First, took the metro and walked a few blocks to the Middle East Institute (MEI) to shelve some new journals that had arrived. I’m simply volunteering some of my time to an amazing educational institute’s library until they have a new librarian in place.

But first! A stop at one of my fav Starbucks nearby. Relaxed and enjoyed a cup of hot Passion tea, read an article I had copied a few days earlier from a Fortune magazine, and munched on a delicious granola bar. From there it was off to the MEI!

I opened packages of new journals that had arrived during the last couple of months and shelved them. But first I made notes of each one to add to an EXCEL sheet I’ve created so that there is a record of the new holdings. I also re-shelved books that had been used by those who research. It really is best if users do not re-shelve books themselves. Shelving by the Library of Congress number system or the Dewey decimal system in not difficult, but it does take extreme concentration and practice to do it correctly. And that explanation is the reason most libraries have many signs telling patrons/researchers not to shelve after using!! As we say in the wild and wooly library world :-), “If an item is misshelved, and we cannot find it, then we might as well not have it.”

After that I walked in the pouring rain to the nearest metro station, rode to Union Station, and took another short walk to Bistro Bis for the most delicious onion soup (oops! excuse me – Onion Soup Les Halles) ever!

I started with a cup of hot Earl Grey, which was perfect after a walk in the rain. Even with an umbrella it was a rather soaking day! Enjoyed the mildly sweet tea while reading another article I had copied a few days ago. By now it was after 1:00pm and not many people for the usual enjoyment of people watching, so reading was fairly uninterrupted.

Then my soup arrived, along with a basket of baguette slices and a small ramekin of soft whipped butter. Now my primary dilemma was where to start!

I chose the soup, filled to the rim with about the tastiest beef broth ever created. Stuffed full with tiny slices of onions, onions, and more onions. Croutons soaked in this tastiest beef broth ever created. (oh? did I say that already?) Fully covered in melted gruyère cheese. Oh how I wish I had a bowl this morning for breakfast!

After deciding to immediately dig my spoon into all this gooey wonderfulness, my next dilemma was figuring out how to deal with the spoon and all the cheese that hangs down into the soup. Truly – you know what I mean. An elegant French restaurant – what to do? Well, I did what I always do. . . used the fingers. How else does one pull off the hanging cheese? Does that technique seem tackier than having cheese hanging off your chin? Plus, I would be paying $ for it, it was my cheese now, I could do whatever I wanted with it, right? Yep! Finger food time! The toasted cheese is a favorite, so I even pulled it off the rim of the bowl and ate that with my fingers as well. Seriously people – it was just too delicious to leave behind!

Soon there were no crumbs, no onion, and no cheese, left on the table. It was done, and tummy was full.

From there I walked (again in the rain!) to the Library of Congress where I sat in that gorgeous Main Reading Room for just about an hour of research. I had emailed the LOC earlier that morning to request a book I wanted for certain historical information. The book was waiting for me at the central desk of the Reading Room, I requested it by my name, sat down and read the parts that I needed, took notes (including, of course, enough for a citation), then caught the metro back to the New Carrollton stop.

A day of knowledge, discovery, and . . . did I mention I ate the most delicious onion soup ever? 🙂


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Library of Congress (LOC). Pretty much there all day long yesterday. Arriving at 9:00am, breaking for lunch, then back in the Main Reading Room until 4:00pm.

The LOC has miles and miles of shelving, and to be sure that these books are available for years to come, patrons such as myself cannot roam the stacks. Instead, we use the online catalog (and some print indexes) to see what is available. I requested three books via the Internet on Friday, and when I arrived Saturday morning they were waiting for me!

After signing in, I had a question for the reference librarian, which he answered right away. He asked what I was researching, and I told him Twiggy, the English fashion model from the 1960s. I then walked into the reading room, gathered my three books, and sat down at “my” desk. Soon the reference librarian was bringing reference books that had brief biographies about Twiggy. I felt like a queen! I’m not sure that they always have time for such service, but Saturday morning the Reading Room was not yet busy. I typed my bibliography but wrote my notes by hand – thank goodness I was of the generation that learned cursive! I would never have gotten so much done that day if I had not.

After reading for about an hour, I decided to look at older fashion magazines, so I requested a few. In about another hour (they were housed in another building), there they were!

At the end of the day, I used the Microforms Reading Room to read and copy ($.25 per page) an article from a 1967 New Yorker about Twiggy’s first visit to the United States and an interview with Twiggy published in The Saturday Evening Post, also from 1967. There were several other researchers utilizing microfilm as well. One had not used the machines in several years and was having troubles. Since the attendant that day was not very available, I was able to help her several times. It was really fun! I cannot explain it, but even though that task is part of my everyday job as a librarian, I find great enjoyment in showing other people how to use those machines. go figure 🙂

The Microforms Reading Room is wonderful, filled with the opportunity to read what has not yet been published electronically or is too old to read in print (preservations concerns). But the Main Reading Room is absolutely breath-taking. Truly one of the most elegant and amazing interior spaces ever. Surrounded with several floors of open stacks with reference books I was able to browse if I wished. Every time I stopped reading and just looked up to take a ten-second break, I was reminded of a scene in Yentl, when Barbra Streisand’s character walked into a room full of books, knowing she would finally have the opportunity to learn and read them all if she wanted. Her first lines:

There are moments you remember all your life
There are moments you wait for
And dream of, all your life
This is one of the moments

For me, the Main Reading Room provides such moments.

And speaking of great moments, did I mention lunch? I only could eat about a third of this individual pizza and had to toss the rest, because I couldn’t take it back to the LOC and save. Such a waste. But here is the picture. Yum!

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