Presenting the Thomas Jefferson Building: 2019 National Book Festival

Presenting the Thomas Jefferson Building: 2019 National Book Festival


>>Susan Mordan White: Well,
welcome to the Book Festival. This morning, I’m going
to be talking to you about our Thomas
Jefferson Building, and a little bit history about why we have a
Library of Congress. So, our first slide that
I’m going to bring up, is going to show you what
Washington D.C. looked like in 1800, when
they moved the capital, or the federal city, from
Philadelphia to Washington. Very rural, pastureland,
not a whole lot going on. Now, Old Town Alexandria was
built up, and so was Georgetown. But right where the
capital is going to be is still a
very rural area. Now, the reason they moved
the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, is that some of the southern states
thought it was too far for them to travel up to Philadelphia. So, they decided to
put the federal city in a more central location
for all the states. So, they put it in the
middle of a swamp, literally. And, which is always
a great place to put your federal government. And in the next picture, you
can see what the capital looked like, and virtually the
Library of Congress was housed in the Capital Building. The first appropriation was
for $5,000 to start a Library of Congress, because
in Philadelphia, it was a very metropolitan
area, they had libraries. They had university libraries. They had private libraries. They had public libraries. Washington D.C. did
not have a library. And of course, Congress
was going to need a library to refer to. So, they started
their own library as the congressional library,
housed in the capital building. That went well until
the War of 1812. In 1814, the British
came to Washington, destroyed the Capital Building,
and destroyed White House and many other buildings. Now, a part of that story
that we always tend to leave out of our history books, is that the American troops had
gone to York the year before, which is present day
Toronto, and burned all of the British holdings there. So, War of 1812 was in
retaliation for that. All the books in the library
were destroyed in that fire. They were shooting
rockets from the port into the roof of the capital. And everything was set ablaze. So, the library was
completely destroyed. At that time, Thomas Jefferson
had the largest private library in the country, and he
offered to sell it to Congress for any price they
deemed reasonable. Now, these 6,487 books that Jefferson was selling,
were on all subjects. There were books on beekeeping,
lace making, the harpsicord, there were books in 14 other
languages other than English, but there were also books on
philosophy, statehood, poetry. And eventually, after six
months of bipartisan debate, only six months of bipartisan
debate, they did decide to purchase Thomas
Jefferson’s books. Now, there’s not an antiquarian
book market in Washington at the time, so they had to
figure out how they’re going to decide how much
his books are worth. So, they do it by size. Largest books are worth $10,
next books are worth 8, 6, 2, 1, down to pamphlets and maps. So, that’s how they came to
the round figure of $23,950. So, Jefferson’s books
come up from Monticello, and they are housed at
the Blodgett’s Hotel which is the temporary
headquarters for the Capital Building. Thomas Jefferson organizes his
books on how he believes we come to human understanding, and that’s through
three parts of our mind. First part is memory. So, that’s history, biographies, history of the world,
history of nature. Second part is our
reasoning skills. Science, philosophy,
math, religion, law. And the last section
is imagination. All of the fine arts. The Library of Congress kept
Jefferson’s collecting practices and classification
system for over 100 years. So, we kept collecting
like he did. So, today the Library of
Congress actually has materials in 470 different languages. Things go along pretty well. We have Jefferson’s
books as a basis. They grow ever so slightly. And then unfortunately, in
1851, another fire strikes. This fire destroys 35,000 of
the libraries 55,000 collection at the time, including
two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson’s books. So, two fires, two times. Once it was completely
destroyed, other time two-thirds
was destroyed. So, basically Congress
and the librarian decide, we’re just going to have a
very conservative period here for a little while. We’re just not going
to collect a lot. We’re going to try and
replace what was lost. But we’re not going to grow
the library during this time. So, as we move forward
from 1851 to 1864, the library doesn’t
grow very much at all, until this man comes
on the scene. Ainsworth Rand Spofford
becomes the fourth employee of the Library of
Congress in 1864. And he does some amazing things. One of the first things
he does is he works with the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian for a
while, people were trying to push it towards being
our national library. The Smithsonian eventually
decides that’s not under their collecting purview. They don’t want to deal with a
library, so their library comes from the Smithsonian, to
the Library of Congress, 40,000 volumes in 1866. They also begin — he begins
to purchase more books, including books on Americana, including a 22,000-item
private library. And probably his
greatest accomplishment that Ainsworth Rand
Spofford did was to create — centralize the copyright law. Copyright law had been
around since 1790, but it was all registered
at district courts, all around the country. What Spofford said was,
“Let’s centralize copyright at the Library of Congress. We can register all
the copyrights. We’ll keep track of
all the copyrights. And if people send two copies
of everything they’re producing into the library, what a great
way to grow our collections.” So, every photography —
well, not photographs then. Well, ergatotypes. But photographs, maps,
architectural drawings, plays, books, articles, start
coming to the library for copyright protection. Today, the library includes about another 12,000 items
every, single business day into our collections, primarily
through U.S. copyright. So, they expand the building
and try to — in the capital. We’re still in the capital. They’re trying to make
those rooms fireproof. They finally realize
books burn really quickly, and really easily. So, they build this
big beautiful room, for the Library of Congress. It’s supposed to be fireproof, at least very much
fire resistant. And things are going well. Then the 1870 copyright
becomes a reality. And the collection
begins to grow. By 18 — I’m just going
to pass by this — if anyone’s really interested
in reading the copyright law, go to Copyright.gov, and
it changes often, so — but this tells — is the actual
act that went through in 1870. So, copyright, they
start spilling out of the sides by 1871. Spofford at first tries to
get them to expand the library in the capital, and then he
realizes there’s just never going to be enough room. We need our own building. So, Spofford is a very wise man. And so, what he does, and
I think it’s partially out of necessity, you can see
the books stacked everywhere. He starts booby-trapping
all the doors that the members
of Congress use. So, they open a door, a pile
of books will fall on them. The books that Congressmen want
to use the most, they put them in the very, very back pile. So, it takes them about an hour
and a half to two hours to get to their book that they
know they’re going to want on a particular piece
of legislation. So, they have an
architecture competition. And architects from
around the country, and a few from international
places, join this competition in 1873. So, I’m going to show you
just a couple of images of what the Library of
Congress could have looked like. Many of them are Italian
Renaissance, cathedralesque. So, you can see just
what the type of drawings that were entered
into the competition. And this is the drawing that
Smithmeyer and Pelz win with. So, it looks very much like
the Thomas Jefferson Building does today. Smithmeyer and Pelz, Smithmeyer
is more of the front guy. He’s the seller. He’s the business guy. And Pelz is the drawer. He’s the real architect. He knows how things
are going to work. Smithmeyer is not
moving forward as quickly as Congress wants them to,
because Smithmeyer has put in all of this building —
the building itself today, is made from 22 million bricks. It is then covered
with 30,000 tons of New Hampshire
granite on the outside. And then it’s just covered
with marble on the end. I’ll show you an image later. But you can imagine the enormity
of this building in a swamp, and trying to get
it to stand upright. They keep messing with
the concrete, etcetera, and Congress starts to
get incredibly frustrated with Smithmeyer and Pelz. And this is what Smithmeyer
and Pelz, I’ve shown you some of the outside, this is
what they were thinking that the inside of the building
was actually going to look like. So, it was highly decorated,
even from those early drawings by Smithmeyer and Pelz. The building was to
have four courtyards. And as you can see
from the cross section, those are bookstacks. They think there’s — they’re
not going to run out of room for at least 70 years. By 1910, they have
filled in the — what would be our far upper
right corner, that courtyard, and put in book stacks. They’ve run out of room. Nineteen-seventeen, they
take that other courtyard in the northwest
corner, fill it in. Then they build the Coolidge
Auditorium in the bottom, left corner in 1925, and
they have no more room. They have one courtyard left, and we still luckily
have some light coming from that courtyard. So, that’s when they start to propose building
the Adams Building, but you can see how
quickly – he had no — they just could not imagine how
quickly these collections would be coming into the building. So, Congress in its
wisdom at the time, isn’t really sure
what it wants to do. So, it holds another
architecture competition, and they finally
decide on the location where they will put
the building. And it’s a 10-acre plot of land, directly across from the Capital
Building, on 1st Street — facing 1st Street, southeast,
and East Capital Street, and Independence Avenue. What they’re going to
have to tear down is this. This is the site
where they’re going to put the Library of Congress. And this is Carol Row. Carol Row is a group of
townhouses where many of the members of Congress
live when they’re in the city, including Abraham Lincoln lived
there during his first term in the U.S. House
of Representatives. But they’re able to secure this
land and begin the building. And this is about
how far they got. And I mentioned Smithmeyer, hard time getting everything
put together, they clear it, but nothing starts above ground. Congress begins to
get really frustrated, because all they see is
the “larger spittoon,” as they called it at the time,
that had ever been constructed. So, they fire Smithmeyer, and
they bring in this gentleman. This gentleman is General Casey. Now, Thomas Lincoln Casey
works for the Army Corps. of Engineers. He has recently helped with
the successful completion of the Washington Monument. So, if he’s able to get
the Washington Monument, that giant obelisk to work,
he’ll probably do pretty well on this building, too. And he brings with him, Bernard
Green as his superintendent. Now, when Casey takes this
position, he is made the head of the whole Army Corps. of Engineers, for
the United States. So, he’s going off to
all the bridges, dams, buildings that they’re building,
and it’s really this gentleman, Superintendent Green, who
keeps everything on track, keeps brilliant records,
makes every — sure that everything is going
to the way that it should be. So, things start to
finally lift off the ground. So, we can see a few of these
pictures as the building and construction begins. And one of the things I
just want to point out, is if you look at
that very top layer, I mentioned the building
was 22 million bricks. So, that’s essentially
what they do, is they’re building this
steel and brick structure, and then covering
it with limestone — or excuse me, New Hampshire
granite on the outside. Pelz stayed on the project
for another year, two years, because he was really the one
who could read all the drawings and knew what had been
drawn and what was expected, but eventually they fire
Pelz to the original — one of the two original
architects, and General Casey brings his son onto the job, Edward
Pierce Casey. No nepotism there. So, Edward Pierce Casey has
been educated as an architect. He worked at the school — or
he graduated from the school of des Beaux Arts in Paris. He worked at McKim, Mead,
and White which was one of the top firms in New York
City, in the Beaux Arts. And at the beginning, his
father pays him, himself. He does not put him on
the roles of the library, because he does not want to
be charged with nepotism. So, Bernard starts
— oh, excuse me. Edward starts on the job and
begins to change a little bit of what Smithmeyer and Pelz had
seen as their original interior. This caused a lot of problems
and lawsuits, etcetera. So, when you walk into
the Library of Congress from the front door, when
you look at the plaque above where it says Library
of Congress, it’s difficult to read, they actually added
Edward Pierce Casey as one of the architects, with
Smithmeyer and Pelz. And of course, Smithmeyer
and Pelz were not happy to have his name up there, but
that’s a whole other lecture for a whole other day. And a lot of drama. But while we’re on this
slide, I just wanted to point out a couple of things
besides at the top, where we recognize the
building being built, Library of Congress, the
two gentlemen over the arch, are two of my favorite
figures in the library. One is our young scholar, and one is our more mature
scholar, or our older scholar. It’s a great way, especially
with children and others to just visualize that learning’s not a process
just while you’re in school. It’s a lifelong pursuit. So, no matter how young you
are, the apprentice on your left with the leather strap around
his head, he had the scroll that he can wrap under his
arm and travel the world, and the torch of
knowledge behind him. And as that passes to the older
generation, or passes back to the younger generation, the older generation has a
laurel wreath on his head, representing accomplishment. And can anybody see
what’s in his hands? It’s a tablet. It just happens to
be made of stone. But how many people in
here use tablets today? It’s a pretty cool way to think about how tablets have always
been the way that we’ve recorded and transported knowledge. In my day, it was tablets was
actually a piece of paper. It could have been a chalkboard. It just depends —
a piece of bone. Depended on when
you went to school. So, moving forward, we
really start to see, now they’ve added a dome to the
building, that was not there in the original drawings. And that large smoke-stack,
which is on the left, that would be right at
2nd Street, Southeast. That was because the Library of Congress actually
produced its own electricity. We had coal fired boilers in
that area where the parking — there’s a parking lot now. But everything came out
where that smoke-stack was, and because the Thomas Jefferson
Building was the first building to be built with
electricity in place, that was open to the public. So, at the time, there
was still a debate on whether direct
current proposed by Thomas Edison was the most
viable, or alternating current, which of course Westinghouse
and Tesla were proposing. The Chicago World’s
Fair of 1893, they had pretty much cemented that alternating current
was more reliable. But guess which one the library
and the capital went with? Direct current. So, they have to
have their own power, and they produce their
own power either on site, or with a cold fire plant
that’s a few blocks away from Capitol Hill. And it’s not until 1954
that the Library of Congress and our U.S. Capital go
on to alternating current. But we got there, but it
just took a little while. That’s when we went onto the
D.C.’s public grid system. As I mentioned earlier,
everything is basically on the inside of the
interior, just [inaudible]. So, it’s just a veneer over. This is in the main
reading room dome, so you can see the
cast iron behind it, and then the plaster
moldings behind that. This is in the Great Hall. And if you look closely
down on the bottom level, you can see where the marble
is being placed over the brick. So, those are thin sheets
of Italian Carrara marble. This is the marble workshop
at the Library of Congress. You can see some of these
little guys I’m going to talk about in a minute,
known as Putti. You can see some of the eagles. Where this workshop is
located is on the north side of the building, on
the second floor. So, if we looked out
the windows on the left, we’d be looking at
the Supreme Court. And here they are with some
more of those figures as well. There are 15 different
types of marble used in the Thomas Jefferson
Building. Here’s a picture of
the main reading room, as it’s being built with it’s
beautiful mahogany desks all the way around. And finally, in 1865, the outside of the building
is considered completed. Now, they just need to work
on that inside decoration. The budget, we’ll talk
about it in a little while, but believe it or not,
they’re staying on time, and under budget at this point. Now, the front of the Jefferson
Building is Italian Renaissance. It’s very much an Italian
Renaissance building. Smithmeyer and Pelz, many
people like to compare it to the Paris Opera House. And I think you can see some
of it, but everything that is in the Jefferson Building,
is very Italian Renaissance on the outside, and we say
Beaux Art on the inside. Much to do with Edward Pierce
Casey’s education in Paris. You walk into the
Thomas Jefferson Building on the first floor, and
you’re immediately taken — just everybody says, “Wow,” because you have these
great lights looking much like the Edison bulbs
that were first used. Those are so retro now. And then the images of Minerva. Minerva is the patroness
or the goddess of the Library of Congress. She is the Roman Goddess of
Wisdom and Defensive War. So, you’re first introduced to
her here in the entry vestibule. The library takes
the opportunity when this building
opens from going from a legislative library, to
a de facto national library. That’s not part of our name,
but that’s what we have become. And from the very beginning, they have exhibitions
in these spaces. This is a set of prints and —
excuse me, prints that were used in the southwest area,
on the second floor. That is where our
Suffrage Exhibit is today. So, we’re using the building
just as it was intended when it opened in 1897. Looking at some of the Italian
influences on the inside, these young boys going up
the side of the building, or side of the stairway,
excuse me, are known as Putti, P-U-T-T-I. Essentially, they’re
cherubs without wings. And if you were in Italy,
they’d be the guys that got to have a great time frolicking
in fountains and having fun. But here in America, we’re
going to be industrious. So, every, single one
of these guys has a job. So, as we look forward, some
of the jobs that they were — or vocations or hobbies,
the bottom one on the left is a gardener. In his right hand, he
has a shovel and a rake. And in his left hand,
he has a watering can. The next one’s a little harder. There are three butterflies. One on top of the net,
one inside the net, and one by his left hand. He has a specimen bag over his
shoulder and a grasshopper. So, he’s our entomologist. Why do we have an entomologist
at the Library of Congress? Because I’ve mentioned
Thomas Lincoln Casey. Well, he had two sons,
Edward Pierce Casey, and Thomas Lincoln Casey,
Jr. And Thomas Lincoln Casey, Jr. was an entomologist. So, if your dad’s the builder,
and your brother’s the designer, you at least get a
Putti on the staircase. The next one is our scholar,
with his mortar board and book. And then in the middle there, we
have a figure representing Asia with all that incredible
silk wrapped around his arms. And then in between him and
the globe, is a little dragon, like we see at the Chinese
New Year celebrations. The one on the right
is representing Europe with a manuscript
and a musical lire. Now, these are we go up, are two
of the other Putti that appear. The library is trying to show
how much technology they have. And so, here we have him
represented with a phone. Yes, they used to be
attached to the wall. And Alexander Graham
Bell’s papers are at the Library of Congress. And then, we have
our astronomer next. In the next section as we
move into the next room, we have Johannes Gutenberg. And this is the evolution
of the book murals. And this is when in 1454, 1455, he first uses metal moveable
type in Mainz, Germany. He goes — we go from write
— hand-writing books, taking three years
to write one Bible. Now, they can produce 180
books in one printing, in the same time it used
to take to produce one. So, he changes the world
with that invention. The Library of Congress
got its copy of a Gutenberg Bible in 1930. And what’s so cool is
this room had these murals and then that’s exactly
where they put our copy of the Gutenberg Bible. It’d been waiting for
them, since the — for 33 years since the
building had opened. So again, beautiful
Italian Renaissance design. I know I’m running out of time. And I just wanted to point out
for a minute, one of the things that is most striking
about the building, is the combination of color. And the head decorator, artist,
painter, was Elmer Garnsey. And so, I’d like to just
give a shout out to him. We have these beautiful murals
representing the five senses, and they’re interchanged
with murals of the Olympics. The modern Olympics
restarted in 1896, and so, in between our five senses, we have these beautiful murals
representing the Olympics, on the north side
of the building, on the second floor
on the ceiling. Now, the artists were
— had a sense of humor, so they had to put American
sports in there too. So, on the south side, they
painted this one of baseball. So, he has a bat. There’s a base. There’s a catcher’s mask,
and the pennant says CAS for the Capital Athletic Club. Fifty-six of these triangles are
throughout the building as well. Those are printer’s marks, and
that’s the original copyright. So, if you think of Random
House, they always have that little house today. That’s a very simplified version
that doesn’t count for anything, but people used to put
their printer’s marks inside the books. Aldus Manutius is an
interesting character from the 16th Century in Venice. He is a printer. He is the first one
to develop italics. He’s the first one to
use the modern comma. He is the first one to
develop paperback books. So, they don’t put a
board on the outside when they put the velum on. They just have a piece of velum
with the pages on the inside, so people can start
to carry books around. Knowledge is easy
to pass on now. So, I always like to give
a little shout out to him, and Double Day printers
still use that as their printer’s
mark today. And then I found a
picture of Aldus Manutius. Anyway, anything at the
library you want to know about, just scratch the surface
and there’s a lot more. Symbolism of the laurel
wreaths with victory and the lamp continuing
burning of knowledge. And I am going to end here so I can make sure I
take some questions. This is as you walk into
the main reading room of the library, and
it’s government seated. And this is what people were
supposed to think about a fair and balanced government
as they walked into the main reading room. Government is seated, and in
her right hand, she has a plaque that says, “A government
of the people, by the people, and
for the people.” Abraham Lincoln and
the Gettysburg Address. In her left hand,
she has a golden rod, representing the Golden Rule. They’re to think about how
you want to be treated, is how you should treat others. The gentleman on the right,
with the reins, is there to rein in government if it
becomes too powerful. And the gentleman on the
left, has its sword still in its scabbard, ready to
defend government if necessary, but to not be the aggressor. And that leads you into
the main reading room, which I’m sure you have
all seen in movies. Anyone done research
in the library? Yay. Anyone who is
16-years of age can come and get a library card. You just have to have a valid
driver’s license of passport, and then you too can
come into this room or our 19 other reading rooms between our three
buildings on Capital Hill. You don’t have to be
doing great research. I write my Christmas
cards in there. I mean, it just is a
place to feel enlightened. And that’s what the Library
of Congress is all about. Alright, does anybody
have any questions? No questions? Alright, then you get
to see my next slides. Oh, yes. I’m sorry. [ Inaudible audience question ] Well, it’s called the
Library of Congress because that’s what
it started out to be. We have never formally changed
our title since the formation of the library in 1800. So, we are the de
facto national library, but that’s not part
of our title. We are one of the only
national libraries in the world that collects universally. So, the Bibliotheque
nationale in France, only collects materials
in French, and basically about
French history. And people of France. So, we’re a national library, but we’re also really
the world’s library. We have one of the largest
collections in the world, and especially internationally. Yes?>>So, you mentioned earlier how
many books you get every day. So, where are you
putting those books and — because you’ve run out of room?>>Susan Mordan White: Yes. The library gets — we bring
into our collections 12,000. We actually get 15,000
books or materials, photographs, prints, etcetera. Twelve thousand are
decided to become part of the permanent collection. Most of those are now stored
offsite up near Baltimore in an army base that they’ve
decommissioned part of it and let’s us have these
beautiful warehouses that go way up into the sky and
are climate controlled. Those things are all put in
there, and those things — if it’s a second copy or something that’s
not used very often, things go to offsite storage. So, if you look at our catalog
at Loc.gov and go to Catalog, when you bring your thing
that you’re looking up, it may say, “Stored Offsite.” And if it says, “Stored
Offsite,” that means you need to give us 24 hours
to get it back from near Baltimore, down here. But they are constantly
building new warehouses and storage for the materials. Yes, we do try to digitize
things, but we’re also the home of the U.S. Copyright, so we
have to obey copyright law. So, things that were
produced from 1924 on, are still under copyright. And the things we do digitize
are things like our two copies of the Gettysburg
Address, the rough draft of the Declaration — the
things that are really — people want to see
and can’t always come to the library to see. So, for instance, we’ve been — on the 100th anniversary
of the Suffrage Amendment, we have been digitizing all
kinds of material on suffrage. So, there’s constant resources
that will be digitized, but we’re never, ever going to
able to digitize everything. Any other questions?>>Can you tell us when
we can hear this again, and what the story is on tours
of the Library of Congress, where we can get
this level of detail?>>Susan Mordan White: Alright. We have — alright,
well first of all, I’m going to give
you my phone number. Might as well. I’m not — it’s a
nice small crowd. I’m not afraid to do that. So, you can call me. I am Deputy Chief of our
Visitor Engagement Office. And I am the person who has
the privilege of recruiting and training our
docents and other guides and visitor information desk
volunteers at the library. We are getting ready to
do some more trainings. We’re not going to do our whole
14-week docent training this year, but we will
again next year. This is my favorite topic to
talk about, if you can’t tell. So, if you want to bring a group
in, we can either schedule you with one of our excellent
docents, such as Conrad, right here. Did I get everything
right today? [ Inaudible audience response ] Okay. Or you can go
through with me as well. But I certainly appreciate
your time and attention. And I hope you guys enjoy
the rest of your day at the National Book Festival. Thanks so much for attending.

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