The Library of Congress is one of DC's hidden-in-plain-sight gems that's often overlooked by locals and tourists alike. Twice each year, on Presidents Day and Columbus Day, the Library of Congress opens its Main Reading Room to the public. (At all other times, the Reading Room is open, but only to those who have an LOC Reader Identification Card.)
The best part? Photography is allowed.
The Main Reading Room is immense and feels more like a temple devoted to education than a library. To say it's grand is really an understatement.
A portion of the Library's main card catalog vault was also open for viewing.
There are actually three buildings that make up the LOC complex in downtown DC. The Main Reading Room is in the (original) Jefferson Building. Across the street is the Madison Building, which is equally beautiful but much more modern, minimal, and severe.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library. It's the main research arm of Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. For more information, and to plan a visit, go to loc.gov.