By Aaron Sayama, Summer 2012 Intern
In addition to working on upcoming exhibitions and our personal research projects, interns at the Smithsonian APA Program also have the opportunity to explore cultural and historical sites that the District boasts. One such adventure took us to the Library of Congress (LOC).
We arrived just in time to join a reserved tour group readied for departure. Listening to our lively and informative docent, we learned about the history of the Library itself. The docent elaborated on each sculpture and relief panel in the lobby, meticulously covering the symbolism present in them. On our tour we heard about some of the Library’s most popular items, such as the Mainz and Gutenberg Bibles. Afterward, we went to see Thomas Jefferson’s personal library. Displayed in the back of the LOC main exhibit space, Thomas Jefferson’s collection of books—organized in his own clever way—gave us a glimpse of this founding father’s intellectual life.
The most rewarding part of our visit, however, was our tour of the Asian Reading Room. Led by founder and curator of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander collection, Remé Grefalda , we got a firsthand look at many of the pieces now housed at the LOC. Some of our favorite pieces include the Carlos Bulosan Archive and the Jade Snow Wong Collection. Each of the interns got to leaf through some of these books from the 1800′s, and see early 20th century depictions of Asians.
Needless to say, after this adventure, we headed over to the Madison building to get our Library of Congress library cards. Now, when the weather gets too hot in DC, we can escape the heat by seeking refuge in one the library’s many reading rooms!