James Baldwin portrait
Portrait of James Baldwin by Beauford Delaney, The Broad Museum, Los Angeles

An example of the vast online resources the Library of Congress freely makes available to the public is an audio recording of a speech by author James Baldwin (the speech begins at 04:38, after he is welcomed by thunderous applause and a brief introduction). Click here to listen: www.loc.gov/item/88752473/. This speech is one of 25 million records accessible through the Library of Congress website at https://www.loc.gov.

Indeed, the Library of Congress is a grand and robust testament of scholarship in every academic field and has the most complete archives in the United States. You can find information in every form on a broad range of subjects.

According to its website: “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.”

The Library of Congress is also the home of the Center for the Book (www.read.gov/cfb), which is a catalyst for the enjoyment of reading by all, founded in 1977 and long under the directorship of librarian and historian John Y. Cole. It spawned state-level Centers for the Book in several US states, the first of which was the Florida Center for the Book.

We recommend every student, teacher and librarian plan a visit to the Library of Congress at least once.  But, whether or not a personal visit is possible, it helps to know that the Library of Congress makes so many items easily accessible online for free.

The Library of Congress is the third stop on our District of Columbia Trail!

Patricia Smart