By EDWARD OHNEMUS AND GAIL FINEBERG
Rep. William M. Thomas (R-Calif.) and Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman joined Dr. Billington at 6:45 p.m. Nov. 4 to throw the switch that illuminated the Torch of Learning high atop the Jefferson Building, while Donald Scott, the Deputy Librarian, led a countdown of a crowd gathered to commemorate the event on Dr. Billington's sixth-floor Madison Building balcony.
Rep. Thomas, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, said, "It's symbolic and exciting tonight to relight the Torch of Learning now that the structural aspects of the Jefferson Building's renovation are completed."
At 5 o'clock in the Great Hall, all three members of the Vermont delegation joined Dr. Billington in unveiling a new plaque to honor former Sen. Justin S. Morrill who, for 17 years, led the congressional committee responsible for the construction of the Jefferson Building. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.) and Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Dr. Billington, Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole, and Sally Anderson from the Vermont Center for the Book and the Vermont State Society to honor Morrill, who is widely known as the author of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862.
Welcoming guests to a reception in the Montpelier Room, Dr. Billington said: "As our yearlong centennial observance comes to an end, it is a good time to count our blessings and express our deep gratitude to our public and private benefactors. The Congress of the United States is the greatest patron of a legislative library in history. Without the foresight and courage of legislators like Justin Morrill, whom we have just honored, and Sen. Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] and Rep. Bill Thomas, and many others, we simply would not be the finest, largest library in the world."
Dr. Billington also thanked Xerox and introduced Joseph Cahalan, vice president of the Xerox Foundation, which underwrote the reception, as well as the "American Treasures" exhibition and the one-hour special on the exhibition that aired Nov. 16 on PBS stations nationwide.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Billington canceled the first stamped commemorative envelope and opened a special Jefferson Building centennial exhibition.
From a podium on a Great Hall staircase landing, Dr. Billington welcomed staff to the 100th anniversary celebration of the Jefferson Building's opening. "It's great to see you all here on this beautiful morning," he said. "One hundred years ago, the Thomas Jefferson Building opened on a rainy day, Nov. 1, 1897. Today, the sun is shining."
The Librarian thanked staff for their hard work on and contributions to a new exhibition, "The Thomas Jefferson Building: Book Palace of the American People," celebrating the reopening of the Jefferson Building. In particular, he noted the efforts of Center for the Book Director John Cole, who did much of the research for the exhibition and wrote a brief essay for a color brochure that accompanies the display; Martha Hopkins, who directed the exhibition, and all of the Interpretive Programs Office staff; Ralph Eubanks, who directed Publishing Office efforts to publish the new visual history of the United States, Eyes of the Nation; and Frank Evina of the Copyright Office, who along with Mr. Cole served as an adviser to the Interpretive Programs Office in organizing the display.