September 17, 2014 (REVISED October 1, 2014) Main Reading Room Open House on Columbus Day

Press Contact: Deanna McCray-James (202) 707-9322
Public Contact: Visitor Services (202) 707-8000

Twice each year, the Library of Congress opens its magnificent Main Reading Room for a special public open house to share information about how the public can access the Library’s resources year-round. The fall open house will take place on the federal Columbus Day holiday, Monday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Photography, excluding use of tripods, is allowed.

The Main Reading Room is located on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C. Reference librarians will be available to demonstrate the Library’s online resources and discuss access to the Library’s vast onsite collections, including services and collections for use in family history research. No other reference services will be available and all other Library of Congress reading rooms and buildings will be closed.

The Jefferson Building, which will be open to the public between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., also features the incomparable Great Hall and the Library of Congress exhibitions.

Among current exhibitions in the Jefferson building are “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle For Freedom” and “Exploring the Early Americas”.

Housed in the Southwest Gallery on the second floor through September 15, 2015, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle For Freedom” highlight major legal and legislative struggles and victories leading to its passage, shedding light on individuals — both prominent leaders and private citizens — who participated in the decades-long campaign for equality. The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” is made possible by a generous grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, with additional support from HISTORY.

“Exploring the Early Americas” is an ongoing exhibit housed in the Northwest Gallery on the second floor. It features selections from the more than 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts that make up the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress. It provides insight into indigenous cultures, the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and European explorers and settlers, and the pivotal changes caused by the meeting of the American and European worlds.

At 11 a.m., John Hessler, co-author of Christopher Columbus Book of Privileges: 1502 The Claiming of a New World, will discuss that story “of exploration, of bravery, of greed, or law, and the possibility of vast riches.” Signed copies of the book will be available in the Library shop at a special Columbus Day discount.

The Library’s Young Readers Center (YRC) will celebrate the Columbus Day holiday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a program about “Exploring Our World”. Young people, who must be accompanied by an adult at all times, will find book displays, activities and crafts about the exploration of land, sea and space. The YRC library of current and classic books, puppet theater, games and puzzles will also be available.

Unreserved guided tours of the Thomas Jefferson Building will be offered at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Each tour is limited to 40 people and designed to accommodate individuals and families, not large groups. More information about the Library, the exhibitions and tours is available at the orientation desks at or by calling (202) 707-8000. Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at


PR 14-168
ISSN 0731-3527