This post is about the 4 libraries i visited, what i got to do there and links
I recently got to travel from Boston all the way to Washington DC and there’s one thing i’m proud to have accomplished; visiting 4 famous libraries. Which libraries are these you may ask, why they’re:
1. Boston Public library
Access to this library is simple, you can take the T (What Boston people refer to as the subway) and stop at COPLEY STATION. Entrance to the library is free. Once you enter the front doors you are greeted by this marble staircase with two lions at the sides, the architecture is gorgeous. To get to the famous reading room, go up the stairs to the second floor and there find the entrance. Be sure to keep quiet as people actually read in this library. There are also exhibitions and you can explore the third floor. My other fave area is the garden. It’s on the first floor, instead of taking the stairs go to your right and that is the entrance. It’s very italian style open air garden and that’s what i love about it, reminds me of italy. Also check out the map room if you have time. I’d say budget 1 hour if you’re really into architecture and the exhibitions. One more thing, depending on which entrance you enter through you;ll see different things, the one i went through was the MAIN ENTRANCE, there is a side entrance and if you enter through there you will see the more normal looking library and the people of Boston utilizing their library, i guess this is where you see the real deal.
2. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
It’s hard to miss this building as it’s a huge grey box, it stands out amidst the old architecture of Yale and it’s next to the huge dining hall. Entrance is free but no one gets to touch any of the books. They are after all, old and rare. You do however get to stare at the amazing amount of old books in a single space. I really think they did a good job here especially with the presentation and lighting. There’s exhibitions around the area about all kinds of material used to print the written word, it is fascinating as you see many other items other than just paper.
3. New York public library
There are more tourists here than actual readers, i’m sorry to say this but it is true. It is hard to photograph the library not just because of all the tourist but the lighting and also the reading room you see above is divided into half so it’s hard to get the whole stretch, nevertheless it is a library worth visiting. The check out station itself is something to marvel at. Furthermore they have many other mini rooms that you should check out, like the map room, the genealogy area, etc. Compared to the Boston library this was bigger no doubt but it felt really crowded too.
4. Library of congress
A must visit if you’re in DC. The biggest library in the world and the architecture is AMAZING, i mean compared to the rest, they really spent a lot more time and money into this baby. Note: This paragraph only talks about the Jefferson building. Take the free tour which goes on every hour, usually 1.30,2.30, etc, the last one is at 3.30, it is worth it as the tour guide gives you so much information you would never have picked up just by glancing around the library yourself. The sad part was that you can’t actually visit the room you see above unless you’re doing research, however, i was told that you can be a member easily, just bring your passport to the building next to it and you can get a membership easily. Sadly i didn’t have time to make one. One thing i really loved about the tour was the guide’s explanation about a particular fresco about good and bad government and the family life picture. So much detail and meaning is embedded into this building it would take days to just discover everything. If you’re done with the tour, go to the special area where they display Jefferson’s library, he’s the guy that made this whole thing possible by donating his library, for more details go take the tour. When i saw it i was in awe, this is a library i aspire to have, just rows and rows of books. There was also a special exhibition that just opened that focused on the civil war and the special exhibit is the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pocket the night he was shot. Oh yes, i forgot to mention, the library of congress doesn’t just hold books, it holds loads of other historical and precious items such as the one mentioned before. This was by far my favorite library, also not to mention National treasure had a scene here, so yeah that’s cool too. ps. You’re not allowed to take any pictures during the tour but there are free professionally photographed pictures on the website for free.
To say that i was happy is a huge understatement, for a book lover, this is a dream, the only thing i regret is that i didn’t have time to browse (if allowed) and i didn’t have access to all the inside areas. Seriously, this made me want to pursue a career in archiving or library science or just a researcher anything basically that would allow me access into famous libraries.
Note: I do not own any of these pictures, i did take personal pictures in these libraries but i feel that professional work would do better justice to them.