Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Got books?



The wife and I are back from a visit with number two son in Washington DC. I can report that all is well in the Capitol (as long as you stay off the metro mass transit system there).

Scott works for the congressional service that is trying to translate and enact the new health care reforms that were passed this year. His office is in one of the buildings that houses the Library of Congress.

So Wendy, son and I traveled up to Capitol Hill to get a closer look. Couldn't get too close though. The building is not open to the public at large. But Scott thought I could take a peek inside, at least to photograph this impressive statue that sat off the lobby.

Ummmmmm, no. I took one picture (see above) as I approached the lobby, but when I stopped before the metal detectors and a cadre of uniformed security guys to try to take another picture, I was immediately challenged.

"In or out. You can't stay there," he barked.

Okay, okay. Sheesh, ya know. Then we headed over towards the somewhat more people-friendly Library of Congress building itself. There, we climbed to the third floor where there is viewing gallery that overlooks a giant reading room below with shelves upon shelves of books.

Quite an impressive sight. But you can't take pictures of it. Nor can you enter the reading room itself without special permission. Check out a book at the Library of Congress? Surely you jest.

Yes, security is tight here too. I even had to take off my belt and go through a metal detector. When we tried to find a restroom in the building, we took an elevator that wound up in the basement. No sooner had the doors opened when a passing uniformed security guard stopped and turned our way. I know, I know . . . we're not allowed here either.

They did have a public exhibition of old books and maps from a special collection of centuries old books and maps of early America, all behind thick glass. Couldn't take pictures there either. Kinda limited my picture-taking to the expansive great room entryway and the statues outside (see below). In otherwords, there's one thing you can't take a picture of at the Library of Congress: books.

They did have computer kiosks where you could do special research with materials not available at your local library. I sat at one work station, thinking I could try it out. Then I saw that the work station required you to enter your identification . . . in the form of a passport.

Couldn't my simple library card suffice?


12 Comments:

Blogger Lynilu said...

Why do I keep thinking that you like to push limits? Oh, because you do! I get it!!

Seriously, isn't it unfortunate that in a country that is touted to be "free," there are so many restrictions? I mean, I get it, I really do, but it would be so nice to actually tour "our" library, and "our" buildings around Capital Hill.

That being said, I hope you had a good trip. I want to to the DC tour one day.

7:08 PM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

Things have changed so much in this country, haven't they? I like the pictures you were able to take. And it sounds like you and your wife had a good visit with your son. It sounds like he has a job that is interesting to him.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Nankin said...

The pictures you did get are great. What a shame hat everything was off limits. A sad comment on our times.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--It's been said that I push the envelope to get material for my blogs. What I won't do for my blogging buddies here. I was a little surprised at all the restrictions around the Library of Congress. Some of the old, rare manuscripts I can understand being protected. But otherwise, it's just another library.

TECHNOBABE--We did have a nice visit with Scott. Just didn't have enough time to do everything I would have liked. Spent a lot of time waiting on the metro subway too.

NANKIN--You just wonder if it will ever change to where the security will be less than what it is now. Can't see that happening any time soon.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

I would love to get in there as well Dave. I think we writer types love to just look at books! You may not have been able to get into the building, but the pictures you shared w/ us more than make up for it in my book

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Number two son" and they said you don't play favorites.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--They had a book festival going on too, but I didn't have a chance to check it out. I'm glad you liked the pictures. Washington is a very picturesque city.

ANONYMOUS--"Number two son" refers to birth order only, just as it did in the Charlie Chan movies.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous betty said...

Well, the 2 photos at the end of your post are impressive enough to make up for all of the ones you couldn't take. I remember my first trip to DC during high school. I was there because I had won an essay contest (believe it or not) and I had to appear on TV. I was so impressed with the subway which I thought was there just for the senators. Did you happen to see that? I was the guest of a senator so I was allowed to do many forbidden things. Photo shooting was not an issue since I had left my camera in the cab from the airport.... at least you managed to keep track of your camera.

Hugs,
Betty

5:35 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BETTY--Thanks. No, we didn't see the subway this time though we rode on it once during a past visit. Since 9/11, I don't believe the public can even get close to that underground area now. My son does have a security pass and got lost once wandering the tunnels under Capitol hill.

Wow, you won a trip to DC for an essay you wrote? I'm impressed.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Great story and photos.
I smiled at not being able to photograph books in a library!!!
Glad you had a good visit with Scott and Wendy's knee held up pretty well.
The security everywhere is very daunting isn't it? And won't change. Thanks for your comments, the warmer days are nice to let air inside. I have security doors, just leave the wooden ones open. The others are heavier than fly-wire, maybe steel?
Had a great visit with my younger daughter and her 3 youngest kids
and they all helped. Nick planted
tomatoes, lettuce and a few flowers
They live 5 hours away, so do not visit often. They take me down for Christmas every year and bring me home a few days later. Can't leave garden long in Summer, just as they can't leave the farm for long.
Take care, my friend, Regards, Merle.

7:28 PM  
Blogger CAROLDEE said...

GlAD you had a great visit..I am happy the security is so great in this country given what other countries are trying to do to us. At least you will have the memory of seeing that great building.
: )

2:25 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

MERLE--I know what you mean about leaving gardens for long. There are probably ways of keeping your flowers watered while you're away. I just need to find out what they are.

That's why I like petunias. They're pretty hardy.

CAROLDEE--And now they're worried about another terrorist attack in Europe. If the security is tight around here, you wonder what it's like over there.

9:31 AM  

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