Thursday, April 22, 2010
:::In the Reading Room:::
I don't have many 'insider' tips for living in DC, but today I'm going to give you some suggestions regarding our nation's finest research institute -- The Library of Congress.
First off, you have to get a library card. This is done in the Madison Building, which is the ugliest of all the three LOC buildings. I hear that they can sometimes do it at Jefferson, but it's best to just go to the Madison. You need government ID, and for some reason I have a memory of sitting at a computer and taking a test? That can't be right. I might be mixing up memories here.
Now, most people who have to do research at LOC probably want to go to the Main Reading Room in the Jefferson Building. Admittedly, it is gorgeous, stunning, breathtaking and marvelous. It's everything that you'd want an old library to be.
But, BUT...you can't take any bags, purses, or backpacks in with you. Yep. Everything has to be checked at the researcher's cloakroom, leaving you with anything you can carry in your arms and/or fit into the tiny, clear plastic bag that they'll provide for you. Sounds fun, right? Not so much, especially if you have one of those laptop things (which has to be taken out of it's case/sleeve) that all the kids carry around with them these days. Or a cell phone (turn that bad boy on silent), any books and papers you need, plus pens, notebooks, lotion, chapstick, etc., etc. I think that stinks.
Luckily, across the street at the Adam's Building you're allowed to bring in one bag, so no unloading and awkward carrying.
Buuuut, here's the rub -- If you're at the Adams and the resource you're looking for is housed in the Jefferson, they're going to send you back across the street, and vice versa. Asking for a book from a collection in another building adds at least 45 minutes onto the standard 45 minute wait time (you don't get your own books). They don't like it when you do that. You will be strongly, strongly encouraged to go where you belong.
Another tip -- bring a flash drive to download things. If you need to make copies, bring twenty dollars in one dollar bills, a debit card, a credit card, some euros, and a couple strands of wampum. Just make sure you have enough money because no one is going to spot you anything.
And, don't be a menace. Librarians have looooooooooooong memories. You will need extra assistance some day, like I did on Monday when I had the library at the business reference desk helping me find a page in the Congressional Record from 1968. Not here subject, but she helped me anyhow.
Did you know that there is free wireless here? That's how I'm writing this blog. I'm inside the Library of Congress! Fun place.
Aaannd they just brought me my book. Intracranial Aneurysms and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Bo-ring. I'm glad I'm only here to make copies.