For Love of Libraries (Week 2 in DC)

Like Tressie McMillan Cottom and Ray Bradbury, I love libraries. Each time I get to a new place, I get a library card, leading to a vast collection of library cards from pretty well every mailing address I’ve ever had. If anybody else is counting, that includes three countries, two provinces, six states, seven schools, fourteen cities… And now, Washington, DC.

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The Library of Congress, whatever else it may be, is a store house of cartoons, a treasure trove of maps, and a boon to my dissertation.

To get a reader’s card for the Library of Congress, first you go through the metal detectors. Then you fill out a form with your contact information (or, if you’re smart, you fill it out online in advance). Then you get your picture taken, supply the library with your digital signature, wait a minute, and voila! You have a reader’s card. Now you can go READ ALL THE THINGS.

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Thus far, I have spent most of my time (it’s already been a week! Time is flying! How will I ever look at EVERYTHING?!) in the Prints and Photographs division. The librarians are FANTASTIC and very enthusiastic about my research (which helps enormously). They have about a gazillion cartoons, which helps, too!

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There are loads of maps.

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(Funny how you’re not allowed to photograph our nation’s heritage.
I suppose it’s a proprietary heritage.)

There is wisdom on the walls.

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(Patriotism, too.)

There is a delightful gift shop. (Yes, I bought books, despite the fact that I am currently living out of a back pack and have no way to get it home, or even a permanent address to bring it to.)

The Prints and Photographs division even lets me use a special flag when I file requests for materials:

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I love the Library of Congress so much that I would marry it if bigamy were legal. If you get a chance to do research here, I highly advise it!

Dissertation forthcoming, after I sort through the collected visual history of Canada,* the United States, and some other places.

* I also greatly enjoy the microfiche at the Library and Archives Canada, and the cartoon collections at the McCord Museum, and the University of Toronto Rare Books Library, and the University of Illinois Rare Books Library, and why don’t you just read the appendix of my dissertation to find out all of the best places?

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