Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Library of Congress visits Pasadena

One cannot travel through library history without hearing about Thomas Jefferson's valuable contributions. Last summer, I had the amazing experience of finally visiting the Library of Congress. Viewing the reconstruction of Thomas Jefferson's Library which is an on-going exhibit was only a small part of this visit. So imagine my delight when I found out that this past Saturday, February 11th at the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, there would be a talk on "Jefferson's Legacy: Building the Rare Book Collections at the Library of Congress" given by LofC Chief of the Rare Book and Collections Division, Mark Dimunation, which was sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America. I envy this man's position as he gets to work daily with this collection while searching for those items that were destroyed in the fire of 1851.

Dimunation showed slides of various items from Jefferson's Library. Jefferson divided his library into three categories, Memory, Reason and Imagination, which he interpreted as History, Philosophy and Fine Arts which he further divided into forty-four chapters. While can view the exhibit online, it is not quite the same as seeing it in person though I would recommend both. One can take all the time he wants viewing more details of each item online. One can even send "postcards" to others of various items by registering first.

Even though the seminar's focus was to be on Jefferson's Library, Dimunation also showed representations of LofC's Bible Collection and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition. $100,000 is a still lot of money to us but imagine how much that was back in 1865? While I could not locate the very same poster that was shown, you can take a glimpse at this similar one.

Even if you cannot get to the Library of Congress in person any time soon, you can still take a virtual tour. One of the advantages to this feature is getting to access past exhibits as well. So take a spin on a cost-free trip to the Library of Congress right at the tip of your fingers.

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