The LIBRARY OF CONGRESS is the largest library in the world with over 167 million items on more than 500 miles of shelves.
Rivaling it is the British Library with nearly the same number of items, followed in size by the Shanghai Library, New York Public Library, Canada's Library and Archives, Russian State Library, Japan's National Diet Library, and the Royal Danish Library.
The greatest libraries in world history, many of which were tragically destroyed, included:
- Assyria's Library of Ashurbanipal, destroyed in 612 B.C. by invasion of Babylonians, Scythians and Medes;
- Egypt's Library of Alexandria, destroyed during Roman conquests, 43 B.C., 272 A.D., and Islamic conquest, 642 A.D.;
- Greek Library of Pergamum, reportedly raided by Roman General Mark Anthony, 43 B.C.;
- Italy's Villa of the Papyri & Herculaneum Library, destroyed by volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 79 A.D.;
- Ephesus Library of Celsus, destroyed during Gothic invasion, 262 A.D.;
- Libraries of Trajan’s Forum, destroyed during Barbarian invasions and the Fall of Rome in 476 A.D.;
- Imperial Library of Constantinople, destroyed during the 4th Crusade in 1204;
- India's Ancient Nalanda Library, destroyed by the Islamic Mamluk Dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, circa 1200;
- Baghdad's House of Wisdom, destroyed by Mongols in 1258;
- Ireland's Trinity College Library;
- France's Bibliothèque Nationale; and
- Oxford's Bodleian Library.
Tragically, many university libraries have engaged in a type of self-destruction of their own, purging shelves of millions of old volumes: some removing books which have not been checked out in years; some replacing them with digital records found at the mercy of search algorithms; while still others are cancelling volumes deemed politically incorrect.
An article, "Universities purging books from libraries" --FOX29-WFLX.com, 2/7/18, stated:
"Faculty members who make their living in the stacks voiced outrage. 'Unbelievably wrongheaded' and a 'knife through the heart,' Charles Cashdollar, an emeritus history professor, wrote to I.U.P. president ...
'Throwing out these books is as devastating as locking the laboratory or studio or clinic doors would be for others.'"
The Library of Congress began April 24, 1800, during President John Adams' administration, with a $5,000 grant from Congress.
Originally located inside the Capitol Building, its purpose was to help legislators write laws.
It was proposed by James Madison in 1783 while he was a member of the Continental Congress with a list of more than 300 desirable books.
During the War of 1812, the British set fire to the Library of Congress.
Thomas Jefferson helped restock it with 6,487 volumes.
The largest fire in the Library's history was in 1851.
It destroyed 35,000 books, which was about two-thirds of the Library's 55,000 books.
President Millard Fillmore and his Cabinet formed a bucket brigade to help extinguish the flames.
In 1897, the Library of Congress relocated to its present site just east of the U.S. Capitol Building.
It now consists of three massive structures:
- THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDING --built 1886-1897,
- JOHN ADAMS BUILDING --built 1930-1939, and
- JAMES MADISON MEMORIAL BUILDING --built 1965-1980.
The artwork and inscriptions on the walls and ceilings highlight notable events and profound thoughts on the topics of:
civilization, science, art, literature, music, culture, self-confidence, sports, culture and religion.
The Library of Congress' Rare Book Division has 1,470 Bibles dating from the beginning of printing, including one of three existing copies of the original 15th Century GUTENBERG BIBLE on vellum.
James H. Hutson, Ph.D., Chief of the Library of Congress' Manuscript Division, produced an online exhibit, "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic."
The Jefferson Building, with 104 miles of shelves, has three massive bronze doors at it Main Entrance representing Tradition, Printing, and Writing.
The right-hand door, representing WRITING, has above it four figures depicting groups who influenced the world by written literature:
a CHRISTIAN, and
The dome above the North lobby of the Great Hall's stairway has:
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER - Sir Francis Bacon, De Hoeresibus.
Above the Reading Room central door to the left is the painting titled "CORRUPT LEGISLATION LEADS TO ANARCHY" where the figure representing Anarchy is burning the scroll of learning while she tramples on a Bible.
In the Main Reading Room has above the figure of History:
ONE GOD, ONE LAW, ONE ELEMENT, AND ONE FAR-OFF DIVINE EVENT, TO WHICH THE WHOLE CREATION MOVES - Tennyson, In Memoriam.
Above the figure of Religion is:
WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE, BUT TO DO JUSTLY, AND TO LOVE MERCY, AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD? - Holy Bible, Micah 6:8.
Above the figure of Science is:
THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD; AND THE FIRMAMENT SHEWETH HIS HANDIWORK. - Holy Bible, Psalms 19:1.
The bronze statues along the balustrade of the galleries included MOSES and ST. PAUL.
On the Main Reading Room dome are murals with figures representing countries and their contributions to civilization.
Among them are: JUDEA-RELIGION, with a pillar inscribed in Hebrew characters "THOU SHALT LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF." Leviticus 19:18.
At the east end of the North Mosiac Corridor is a painting by Charles Sprague Pearce titled "THE FAMILY."
It is surrounded by smaller panels depicting family life:
- Recreation, and
The Members of Congress Reading Room has ceiling panels featuring the seal and motto of States.
IN GOD WE TRUST.
DITAT DEUS --God enriches.
NIL SINE NUMINE --Nothing without God.
Another panel has the Light of State with:
OUR LIBERTIES WE PRIZE, AND OUR RIGHTS WE WILL MAINTAIN.
SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS --Thus ever to tyrants.
The Members of Congress Reading Room has a panel featuring the creation of light with the words, "LET THERE BE LIGHT" --Genesis: 1:3.
Small angels in the corners represent Physics, Metaphysics, Psychology and Theology.
Another panel features the Dragon of Ignorance and Falsehood being trampled by the Spirit of Truth, who is reaching to heaven for a ray of light with which to inflict his final wound.
Small angels hold the level, the plumb, the square, and the Bible, each considered an agent in the presence of Universal Law.
The Jefferson Building's East Corridor has vaulted ceiling panels representing the Life of Man, with quotation:
FOR A WEB BEGUN GOD SENDS THREAD - Old Proverb
And around the corner, facing the Great Hall:
THERE IS BUT ONE TEMPLE IN THE UNIVERSE AND THAT IS THE BODY OF MAN - Novalis, Philosophy and Physics
The South Corridor has:
NATURE IS THE ART OF GOD - Sir Thomas Browne
The West Corridor has tablets with the names of scientists and quotations.
The South tablet has:
THE LIGHT SHINETH IN DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS COMPREHENDETH NOT - Holy Bible, John, 1:5
THE FIRST CREATURE OF GOD WAS THE LIGHT OF SENSE; THE LAST WAS THE LIGHT OF REASON - Bacon, Essays, "Of Truth."
The North tablet has:
ALL ARE BUT PARTS OF ONE STUPENDOUS WHOLE, WHOSE BODY NATURE IS, AND GOD THE SOUL - Pope, Essay on Man, "Epistle" one, 267.
The Jefferson Building's North Corridor has round tablets with the quotations:
WISDOM IS THE PRINCIPAL THING; THEREFORE GET WISDOM; AND WITH ALL THY GETTING, GET UNDERSTANDING - Holy Bible, Proverbs 4:7.
IGNORANCE IS THE CURSE OF GOD, KNOWLEDGE THE WING WHEREWITH WE FLY TO HEAVEN - Shakespeare, Henry the Fourth, part 2, Act 4, Sceve 7
ORDER IS HEAVEN'S FIRST LAW - Pope, Essay on Man "Epistle," four, 49.
The Northeast Pavilion ceiling shows the Great Seal of the United States with a narrow blue band inscribed:
THAT THIS NATION, UNDER GOD, SHALL HAVE A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM; THAT GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH - Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
THANK GOD, I ALSO AM AN AMERICAN! - Daniel Webster, Address at Charlestown, Mass., June 17, 1843, Dedication of Bunker Hill Monument.
TO BE PREPARED FOR WAR IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE MEANS OF PRESERVING PEACE - George Washington, Speech to Congress, January 8, 1790.
The John Adams Building is five stories high with 180 miles of shelving which can hold ten million volumes.
Its South Reading Room has murals, including one depicting:
THE PEOPLE OF EVERY COUNTRY ARE THE ONLY SAFE GUARDIANS OF THEIR OWN RIGHTS, AND ARE THE ONLY INSTRUMENTS WHICH CAN BE USED FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION. - Jefferson to John Wyche, May 19, 1809.
The James Madison Memorial Building has Madison's quotations:
THE ESSENCE OF GOVERNMENT IS POWER; AND POWER, LODGED AS IT MUST BE IN HUMAN HANDS, WILL EVER BE LIABLE TO ABUSE - Speech before the Virginia State Constitutional Convention, December 1, 1829.
A MAN IS SAID TO HAVE A RIGHT TO HIS PROPERTY, HE MAY BE EQUALLY SAID TO HAVE A PROPERTY IN HIS RIGHTS - National Gazette, March 29, 1792.
THE HAPPY UNION OF THESE STATES IS A WONDER: THEIR CONSTITUTION A MIRACLE: THEIR EXAMPLE THE HOPE OF LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD - "Outline Notes," September 1829.
Another notable building in Washington, D.C., is Union Station, the most visited destination in the Capitol.
A quote inscribed at the Attic of State Entrance, South Elevation, is:
LET ALL THE ENDS THOU AIMST AT BE
THY COUNTRY'S - THY GOD'S - AND TRUTH'S.
On the Attic of Central Pavilion, Eastern Panel, is a quote from Isaiah 35:1:
THE DESERT SHALL REJOICE AND BLOSSOM AS A ROSE.
On Union Station's Attic of Central Pavilion, Central Panel, is a quote from the Book of John 8:33, where Jesus said:
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.
On Union Station's Attic of Central Pavilion, Western Panel, is a quote from the Book of Hebrews 2:8, declaring that all of creation is subject to Jesus Christ:
THOU HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET.
American Minute is a registered trademark of William J. Federer. Permission granted to forward, reprint, or duplicate.
Image Credits: Great Hall in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.; Date: November 21, 2011, 17:05:23 ; Author: Arcaist; Camera location 38 53′ 19″ N, 77° 00′ 17″ W Kartographer; Licensing: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license: w:en:Creative Commons; attribution share alike; This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Library_of_Congress_Great_Hall_angle.jpg