Wim Kok, prime minister of the Netherlands, visited the Library on Sept. 28, on his way to the White House to meet with President Clinton.
The prime minister presented a rare book of Dutch history to the Librarian as a "Gift to the Nation," to commemorate the Library's Bicentennial. The book, bound in vellum in eight volumes, was written by Pieter Bor Christiaensz (1559-1635) and is the most complete edition of a standard work on Dutch history. The books are filled with engravings; the author also inserted copies of the documents upon which he based his text. Since most of these documents were lost over time, the work is an important reference source.
Accepting the volumes, Dr. Billington said, "We are delighted that you chose this way to mark the great friendship between our two democratic nations." On a more personal note, the Librarian also noted that both his brother and a niece have been guest professors in the Netherlands.
The Dutch collections at the Library are the largest and most comprehensive in the Western Hemisphere and are especially strong in cartographic treasures from the 17th century.