my next big adventure!

My next big adventure, related to being a Library of Congress docent, is beginning training to conduct walking tours of historic sites in Washington. My favorite LoC tour, my closest friends know, begins at the northern wing of the Capitol, includes the fountain and the brass front doors, and the architectural features outside the Library, as well as the interior gems that come with a tour of the Jefferson building.

The first training “audition” is a 20-minute walkabout of Lafayette Square. I’ll post some online resources here and in the margins, like these government sites: the National Park Service site, and this General Services Administration site; and quasi and non-governmental sites like the White House Historical Association site, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation site. And last but not least, the show’s sponsor, Washington Walks!

That’s a lot of information for 20 minutes. I will distill and condense it down. Like poetry. And I am thinking about a Yelp page for feedback, that I can possibly combine with other adventures.

OK. Bon Voyage!



Stories I tell on my tour

My Saturday morning tour is a series of stories I tell:

Why is the Commemorative Arch special? How does it divide time and space into two dimensions?

Why is the same Latin term the root for Fascism and Government?

What made the American Renaissance different?

Why was the Gutenberg press shape-shifting?

What is the Library’s subliminal message to members of Congress?

Why did the British burn Washington?

What is so cool about the original Jefferson collection?

Why does Islam fit between the Greeks/Romans and the development of modern languages? Why does Western Civilization start with the Egyptians?

Why is Minerva really Athena? What’s up with that owl?

Why is Michelangelo different from all the rest?

Why is that olive tree shaped like a vine?

It’s a lot for 45 minutes, but it all gets covered.

12212016 – post graduation reading list

The 1812 Catalogue of the Library of Congress: A Facsimile (1982) 
 Introduction by Robert A. Rutland; indexes by Lynda Corey Claassen
Description: 141 p. A reprint of the Library catalogue prepared for Congress in 1812, with a preface by Daniel J. Boorstin.
Links: LC catalog entry | Full text through HathiTrust

Bicentennial Background: Turning Points in the Library’s History (March 2000)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article from LCIB issue 59.3 (p. 52-53) outlining 15 events in the Library’s history between 1814 and 1994 that shaped the institution’s development.
Links: Full article

For Congress and the Nation: A Chronological History of the Library of Congress (1978) 
John Y. Cole
Description: 196 p. An illustrated legislative documentation of the origins, growth, and development of the Library of Congress to 1975. Reprinted in 1979.
Links: LC catalog entry | Full text through LC website | Full text through HathiTrust

Full Circle: Ninety Years of Service in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress (1991)
Josephus Nelson, Judith Farley
Description: 64 p. A history of the Jefferson Building’s historic Main Reading Room, written by two reference specialists in the General Reading Rooms Division.
Links: LC catalog entry | Full text through HathiTrust

Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress (1993)
John Y. Cole
Description: 103 p. A basic, illustrated history of the Library of Congress, with information about its collections and buildings. Reprinted in 1998. Companion volume to “On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress.”
LC catalog entry | Full text through LC website | Full text through HathiTrust | News release (April 30, 1993) | News release (November 16, 1998) | LCIB coverage (issue 52.12)

Smithmeyer & Pelz: Embattled Architects of the Library of Congress (1972)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article published in the “Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress” issue 29.4 (p. 282-287) exploring the story of John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz, the architectural team who won the design competition for the new Library of Congress building in 1873 and again in 1886, but lost their jobs before the building was completed—Smithmeyer in 1888 and Pelz in 1892.
Links: Full article

A Legacy of Librarians (November/December 2015)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article from Library of Congress Magazine Vol. 4 No. 6 (p. 14-17 ) with a historical overview of the thirteen Librarians of Congress who have served the Library from 1802-2015.
Links: Full article (pdf download)

The Library of Congress: A Documentary History (1987)
Author: Edited by John Y. Cole
Description: A collection of 499 microfiche accompanied by a printed guide, published by University Publications of America.
Links: LC catalog entry | Full text of guide through LexisNexis database

The Library of Congress and the Presidential Parade, 1800-1984 (October 1984)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article from LCIB issue 43.42 (p. 343-348) reflecting upon the history of the presidential appointment of the Librarian of Congress.
Links: Full article

The Main Building of the Library of Congress: A Chronology, 1871-1965 (1972)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article published in the “Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress” issue 29.4 (p. 267-270) featuring a year-by-year account of the building’s history from the year in which it was first suggested to Congress by Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford until 1965, when Congress authorized the construction of a third major Library structure, the James Madison Memorial Building.
Links: Full article

Of Copyright, Men, and a National Library (1971)
John Y. Cole
Description: Article published in the “Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress” issue 28.2 (p. 114-136) describing the historical development and significance of the centralization of U.S. copyright deposit at the Library of Congress in 1870 and the personalities involved.
Links: Full article

On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress (1995)
John Y. Cole
Description: 106 p. A visitors’ guide to the inscriptions and quotations in all three Library buildings, as well as information about each building’s history, major paintings, and works of sculpture. Companion volume to “Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress.” (1993)
Links: LC catalog entry | Full text through LC website | Full text through HathiTrust | News release (April 25, 1995) | LCIB coverage (issue 58.12) | LCIB coverage (issue 67.10)



week fourteen


From Wikipedia, Gesamkunsgtwerk

Gesamtkunstwerk in architecture[edit]
Some architectural writers have used the term Gesamtkunstwerk to signify circumstances where an architect is responsible for the design and/or overseeing of the building’s totality: shell, accessories, furnishings, and landscape.[14] It is difficult to make a claim for when the notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk was first employed from the point of view of a building and its contents (although the term itself was not used in this context until the late 20th century); already during the Renaissance, artists such as Michelangelo saw no strict division in their tasks between architecture, interior design, sculpture, painting and even engineering. It has been argued by historian Robert L. Delevoy that Art Nouveau represented an essentially decorative trend that thus lent itself to the idea of the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk. But it is equally possible it was born from social theories that arose out of a fear of the rise of industrialism.[15]

Frank Lloyd Wright: Interior of the Robie House, Chicago, 1909.
However evidence of complete interiors that typify the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk can be seen some time before the 1890s. There was an increasing trend amongst architects in the 18th and 19th centuries to control every facet of an architectural commission. As well as being responsible for just the structure they tried to extend their role to include designing (or at least vetting) every aspect of the interior work as well. This included not only the interior architectural features but was extended to the design of furniture, carpets, wallpaper, fabrics, light fixtures and door-handles. Robert Adam and Augustus Welby Pugin are examples of this trend to create an over-all harmonising effect which in some cases might even extend to the choice or design of table silver, china and glassware.

A distinctly modern approach to the concept of architectural Gesamtkunstwerk emerged with the Bauhaus school, first established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius. The school specialised in design, art and craftsmanship (architecture was not introduced as a separate course until 1927 after it had transferred to Dessau). Gropius contended that artists and architects should also be craftsmen, that they should have experience working with different materials and artistic mediums, including industrial design, clothes design and theatre and music. However, Gropius did not necessarily see a building and every aspect of its design as being the work of a single hand.[16]

week thirteen

Creating the United States Interactive


Thomas Jefferson Library


Out of the Ashes: A New Library of Congress and the Nation


Saving this link to a viral email from General “Warrior Monk” James Mattis about reading