January 31, 2020 Library of Congress to Hold Semiannual Main Reading Room Open House Highlighting African American History Month

Press Contact: Deanna McCray-James (202) 707-9322
Public Contact: Visitor Services (202) 707-8000
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Twice each year, the Library of Congress opens its magnificent Main Reading Room to share information about how the public can access the Library’s resources year-round. The Main Reading Room will be open to the public on the federal Washington’s Birthday holiday, Monday, Feb. 17, 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. SE, Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Building will open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In lieu of the normal tour schedule, docents will be available to talk with visitors about the Jefferson Building, its history, art and architecture and the Library’s collections and exhibitions between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Special Displays

This year’s first open house will showcase a variety of materials highlighting African American history and culture from within the Library of Congress collections: children’s books by and about Supreme Court justices, the Blackwell Family tree (family of Arthur Ashe Jr.) tracing family lineage back to 1735, material on African American contributions to science, famous African American cookbooks, and highlights of the Library’s digitized newspaper collections, specifically the Chronicling America collection with an emphasis on African American newspapers and topics pages. Reference librarians will also be on hand to demonstrate services, offer instruction on obtaining 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 selfie sticks, mono-, bi- or tripods.

The Library’s Young Readers Center, located on the ground floor of the Jefferson building, will be open with activity stations and programming for visitors. Young people under 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.


The following activities will be available throughout the Jefferson Building for visitors:

Rosa Parks Ask a Librarian station, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Location: Rosa Parks exhibition entrance, second floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

Drop in to talk with a librarian about resources related to Rosa Parks available from the Library of Congress. 

Preserving Family Photographs workshop, 11 a.m.–noon
Location: Programs Lab, LJ G-27, ground floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

Andrew Robb from the Library’s Conservation Division will discuss ways you can organize, house and store your family photographs, with reference to the preservation efforts around Rosa Parks’s family photo albums. Preregistration is encouraged but not required. Tickets are available via Eventbrite at https://family-photos-lc.eventbrite.com.

Conversation with Keith Knight, 1–2 p.m.
Location: LJ 119, first floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

Cartoonist Keith Knight is known for his comic strips including “The Knight Life,” “th(ink)” and “The K Chronicles.” “Woke”, a new live-action/animated comedy based on Knight’s life, will premiere on Hulu in June. Warren Bernard, executive director of the Small Press Expo, will interview Knight about his life and career. Tickets are available via Eventbrite at https://keith-knight-lc.eventbrite.com.

Rosa Parks Artmaking, 10 a.m.– 3 p.m.
Location: Young Readers Center, ground floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

Children, ages 6 and up, and their families are encouraged to stop by the Young Readers Center, LJ G-29, for artmaking inspired by Rosa Parks. Participants will create collage art based on the work of printmaker Amos Kennedy and use the words of Rosa Parks or their own words to create a print based on Kennedy’s work on display in the exhibition “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words.”


The Library’s exhibitions will be open throughout the day. “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words showcases rarely seen materials that offer an intimate view of Rosa Parks and documents her life and activism — creating a rich opportunity for viewers to discover new dimensions to their understanding of this seminal figure. The materials are drawn extensively from the Rosa Parks Collection, a gift to the Library of Congress from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Other exhibitions include “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote,” which tells the story of the 72-year campaign for women’s suffrage, and “Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels an Pages,” which explores the realm of comic art and how visual and narrative storytelling styles have evolved from panels in early newspapers to contemporary comic images.

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

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 20-005
ISSN 0731-3527