September 15, 2015 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 open house to share information about how the public can access the Library’s resources year-round. The second open house of the year will take place on the federal Columbus Day holiday, Monday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Main Reading Room is located on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C.

Reference librarians will be on hand to demonstrate services, instruct on how to obtain a reader-registration card and answer questions. No other reference services will be available and all other Library of Congress reading rooms and buildings will be closed. Photography is allowed; however visitors may not use mono-, bi- or tripods. Visitors can join the conversation that day on Twitter and Instagram using the tag #LibraryOpenHouse.

Reference librarians from numerous divisions 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.

The Jefferson Building will open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Docent-led tours of the building will not be available on the holiday. In lieu of the normal tour schedule, docents will be available to talk with visitors about the historic Thomas Jefferson Building, its history, the Library’s collections and exhibitions between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Among current exhibitions in the Jefferson building are “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle For Freedom” and “First Among Many: The Bay Psalm Book and Early Moments in American Printing.” Docents will be on hand inside both exhibitions to show highlights and answer questions for the duration of the open house.

On display in the Southwest Gallery on the second floor through January 2, 2016, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle For Freedom” highlights 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.

Housed in the South Gallery on the second floor through January 2, 2016, “First Among Many” tells the story of American printing as it evolved from a colonial necessity to the clarion of freedom. In addition to the Library’s copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book to be printed in what is now the United States, the exhibition features iconic treasures that represent the launching of an approach to publication particular to the American press.

More information about the Library and the exhibitions is available at the orientation desks, at or by calling (202) 707-8000.

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 15-161
ISSN 0731-3527