Washington Rare Book Group members and friends kicked off 2017 with a very special tour of the beautiful Thomas Jefferson building, led by Library of Congress Historian, John Y. Cole.


John Cole was named the Library of Congress Historian in April 2016, a new position dedicated to serving as the top technical expert and adviser on the history of the Library of Congress, documenting institutional history and conducting historical research. We are honored that he has also been a member and supporter of the Washington Rare Book Group for many years.

In the Rosenwald Room, overlooking the spectacular Main Reading Room

The day began with a coffee reception in the Rosenwald Room, just across from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division Reading Room. From here it is possible to get a very special glimpse into the spectacular Main Reading Room below.

From there, the group proceeded to the Great Hall and beyond, learning about architecture and symbolism along the way.

The Great Hall, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
A beautiful corner room in the Jefferson Building displays some amazing use of symbolism in the design of the Library.


We then moved on to the exhibit of Thomas Jefferson’s private library.

Jefferson sold his collection to Congress in 1815 after the British burned the original Congressional Library during the War of 1812.

This collection became the core from which the entirety of the Library’s collections developed. Truly inspiring to see.

Thomas Jefferson’s Library


If you are interested in learning more about Thomas Jefferson’s library and the Library of Congress, check out this online exhibit.

The Washington Rare Book Group would like to thank John Cole for being a marvelous guide! If you missed this event and would like to see what’s next for WRBG, please visit our Current Event page. If you’d like to join WRBG, you can do so here.

We hope you enjoyed this event, and we can’t wait to see you next time!