Thursday, September 10, 2009

On libraries and liberties

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have company this week (tomorrow Leanne and I are both heading for Boston), and this will – I repeat will – interrupt my blogging (and there was much rejoicing). There might not be another post up before I get back on Monday, or, there might be posts every day. Who knows? Anyway, until further notice, expect delays in both directions (I’ve been riding the DC metro too much lately). The following post was supposed to be up yesterday (so for your own convenience, translate every “today” into “yesterday”). There were new shenanigans today (not yesterday), which might, or might not, be posted tomorrow. Please step back for the doors to close.

Leanne arrived ridiculously early (and on time, even though her train was stuck for a while in Connecticut, or Bommdbugbtt as I called it in my 4 am reply). We even managed to find each other in the crowd at Union Station, and deposit her suitcase in daycare (I think it must have been one of those pre-Harvard ones, as it was horribly expensive).

After breakfast and Starbucks, we walked towards Capitol Hill. It is pretty funny that I, after having spent only a month in this country, got to show Leanne (native-born American, though she’ll rarely admit that) the capital of this country. Once again I let myself be impressed by the grandeur of Capitol – the building is amazing. This time we also went on the tour – which was funny – mostly because the tour guide seemed to have caught a bad case of the vodka-valium-mocha-latte syndrome (nobody is that cheery that early in the morning).
After we’d seen where the legislation happens, though, we went for today’s real treat. A while back I sent Leanne a postcard suggesting a visit to every booklover’s fantasy – the Library of Congress. Aside from seeing the beautiful and slightly overwhelming building, we also got to do what the average tourist can’t – access the books. We had to walk through a maze and answer a riddle – but they eventually let us in. We got researcher cards (Leanne’s mug shot looks like she’s a mass murderer, while mine look like I’m the no brain accomplice); planned fake research projects (obviously I did not want to even peek at any books that might be relevant for the research project I’m actually working on); and – poof – after a quick walk back through the maze (I almost got us lost, but fortunately Leanne can smell the books from miles away) we were in.

Architecturally and interior-wise, the library couldn’t be better. Imagine the library in Beauty and the Beast (every girl’s childhood fantasy). Add a tablespoon of alcoves with tiny little staircases, and a pinch of real books (with real funny titles – like the Dictionary of Art, Volume 19, “Leather to Macho”). It was almost like coming to heaven.

Before leaving (we needed solid food, as opposed to brain food), we also paid a visit to the children’s book section – which in addition to lots and lots of adorable books for kids, also contained a nice, little German lady who told us to come back on Friday afternoon for tea (she also wanted me to rethink the topic of my thesis and instead write about children’s literature. We shall see. The jump from geopolitics to kindergarten logic isn’t that big, after all).

All in all a very good day (we didn't even get caught doing bogus research!) – tomorrow we’re off to another state!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You lucky dog! I'd love to be able to hang out in the Library of Congress for a while. It looks beautiful.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...


I am so completely envious, though also fear for you. Leanne and books can be a rather overwhelming experience--LOVED that you said she could smell the books--so true. I think she and I managed to hit every book store in the UK.

But I actually fell out of my chair and had to go tell my coworker when I hit "Leather to Macho" BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You KNOW the people who edited the art dictionary series had to have a sense of humor.

Jack W. Regan said...

I shall join the envy train, here. I work part time in a smallish library here in Michigan and therefore have a thing for libraries in general. It's one of my life goals to visit the LOC. You just HAD to beat me, didn't you?

Cruella Collett said...

I know. I know. I know.

That pretty much sums up what I can reply to these comments without gloating too much...

Everybody - follow the smell of the book (if your nose doesn't work that way, I'm sure Leanne will let you hire her) and go see the LOC (awesome abbreviation!)! It really is that great. (Prepare for riddles)

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