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Librarian's Room

The suite with the Librarian's Room is located at the east end of the Great Hall's north corridor or alcove. Now used as the "Librarian's Ceremonial Office," one of its two entrance doors is to the left of a gold-engraved marble wall panel with the names of the Librarians of Congress, from John Beckley, who served from 1802 to 1807, to the present Librarian, James H. Billington.

The suite is divided into two areas by a broad, open arch. On one side is the low-ceilinged secretary's office, a full bathroom, and a gallery above. This photograph, taken from the gallery or balcony, is a view into the Librarian's office area. Kings, queens, presidents, and other heads of state have visited the Library and viewed treasures from the Library's collections in the privacy of this room.

* This location is only available for viewing via the online tour.


Grecian Female Figures

Surrounding the ceiling painting of Letters is plaster ornamentation in low relief by Albert Weinert. There are two slightly different alternating Grecian female figures holding a garland. Below them are square panels in which there is an open book. These, in turn, alternate with ovals, each containing an octagonal panel with an owl. Between each Grecian figure is a palm branch with a hexagonal panel above. These panels contain the lamp of learning. The open book, owl, and lamp symbols, used throughout the Jefferson Building, represent wisdom and learning. The dome also features decorative urns, fluttering ribbons, and bay leaf swags.

Winged Boy with Palm Branch and Trumpet

Below each of the pendentive paintings is the figure of a winged boy, by Albert Weinert, approximately two feet in height. Holding a palm branch in one hand and blowing a trumpet with the other hand, the designs of the winged boy alternate. In the northeast and southwest pendentives, he holds the palm branch above his head. In the northwest and southeast pendentives, he holds the palm branch to his side. The palm branch and trumpet beling blown symbolize triumph or victory.

Librarian's Desk

The restored Librarian's desk is original to the Librarian's Room in the Jefferson Building.


North Wall's Lunette

Illustrating the evolution of the poet, the north wall's lunette is broken by two windows overlooking the Northwest Court of the Jefferson Building. At the bottom, a boy plays on his oaten pipe. Above him, two trumpeters blare at him to join in the joy of battle. At the top, a child, representing the full-fledged bard, sits astride his hobby horse. Within the circle of the lunette is Pegasus.

South Wall's Lunette

Like the north wall, the south wall's lunette also illustrates the evolution of the poet. Instead of two windows, the wall is broken by two doors with marble arches. The iconography is the same as the north wall's lunette with the exception of the circle at the lunette's center. Instead of Pegasus, Pandora is featured opening the box containing all the ills which plague mankind and only the hope for a blessing.


Ceiling Painting of Letters

The shallow dome of the Librarian's Room includes a central disc with a painting by Edward J. Holslag. Representing Letters, the seated figure of a beautiful woman holds a scroll in her hand and is accompanied by a child with a torch. In the ribbon banner is the Latin phrase "Litera scripta manet" (The written word endures).

Painting Illustrating Books, the Delight of the Soul

In each of the four pendentives is a circular painting by Edward J. Holslag complementing the theme of the ceiling painting. The pendatives, triangular curved surfaces between two arches and beneath a dome, are decorated with rosettes and fluttering ribbons, garlands of fruit, moldings of elongated beads and disks (bead-and-reel), egg-and-dart moldings, and sprays of bay leaves and bayberries surrounding the circular paintings. In the northeast pendentive painting, a young woman holds a closed book with the ribbon banner above incribed "Liber delectatio animae" (Books, the delight of the soul).

Painting Illustrating In Darkness, Light

In the northwest pendentive painting, a young woman hold a torch. The ribbon banner above her is inscribed "In tenebris lux" (In darkness light).

Painting Illustrating Study, the Watchword of Fame

In the southeast pendentive painting, a young woman holds an open book. The ribbon banner above her is incribed "Efficiunt clarum studio" (They make it clear by study).

Painting Illustrating The Muses, Above All Things, Delightful

In the southwest pendentive painting, a young woman plays the lute. The ribbon banner above her is inscribed "Dulce ante omnia musae" (The Muses, above all things, delightful).

Wall Light

The wall lights in the Librarian's Room have been restored. The Thomas Jefferson Building was the first public building constructed with electrical wiring in the city of Washington. At that time, the lighting fixtures proudly displayed their bulbs without shades as is seen in these semicircular wall lights.

Wall Light