As you may have heard, it's National Library Week. National Library Week means I get to talk about libraries all the time. In fact, since it's National Library Week, I kind of have to talk about libraries all of the time. I think I signed an oath to do so sometime, somewhere.
I love talking about libraries. I love thinking about libraries. I love entering libraries. I even have a library bucket list--those libraries I want to enter before I die. Wait, not just enter, but take the top-secret-librarian-handshake-required tour. I discovered these tours beyond doors marked "Staff Only" in library school. My classmates worked in libraries and archives scattered throughout the Washington, D.C. area and our professors worked in places like the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Sometimes our classrooms were in these institutions, allowing us to wear snazzy name badges and to input the code to the staff doors. And there's nothing like getting to see cold storage in the National Archives because a guy working there recognized a friend/classmate from a party the weekend before.
So my bucket list:
The Bodlein. If the Library of Congress is our library mothership in the U.S., the Bodlein holds that title for the U.K.
CIA and FBI libraries--I went to library school in DC because I kind of wanted to work with secret agents. Still haven't been in either library, although I walked past the FBI Hoover building numerous times.
Library of Congress -- Check. Been in the stacks. Saw the conveyor belt. Stood 5 ft from contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets when he was shot, as they awaited repairs to their display case in the conservation lab. Stood same distance from George Washington's daily journals, awaiting rebinding (which was good, becuase the paisley covers they were sporting were a) not original and b) garish). Studied in the reading room. I'd go back for more.
LucasFilms Library. This is a holdover from my love of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It's a beautiful library with lots of wood and stained glass out on Skywalker Ranch. After the prequel debacles, it moved a bit further down my list. But, my acquisition of The Sounds of Star Wars has returned some of my affection for all things Star Wars.
Marsh's Library in Dublin, Ireland--Check. Home to Johnathan Swift's death mask and also the first public library in Ireland. Do you see those ornate doorways behind the people? Those are actual doors with actual locks that actual librarians used to lock actual reseachers in with the rare books so the books wouldn't be stolen.
National Geographic Film Library -- Check. A classmate worked there. She even offered me a job, which I was too clueless to accept. The offices in DC hosted rotating exhibits, including a Peruvian mummy, who they stored in her film storage vaults for the cooler temperatures. Did you know that they had librarians who watched all of their productions and cataloged them scene by scene? So if there's a shot of an elk in the winter time, they have this list of words they attach with that 15 seconds--elk, bull elk, conifers, snow, daytime..... And then when someone wants footage of say, snow, someone could just type that into a database and find all of the scenes with snow in them.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Library -- Check. It's hard to know what to say about the USHMM Library, given the millions of deaths it's committed to remembering. The resources are awesome in a gut-wrenching way. Amazing people worked there when I was a student.
New York Public Library--the one with the lions. Check out their old school stacks! Oh, hey! If I can get there in May, it looks like I could do a scavenger hunt! "18 miles of underground stacks." And you thought our stacks were confusing. You could almost hold a marathon in theirs.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History National Anthropological Archive -- Check. Took a photographic archives class there on Saturdays one summer. One day the air conditioning was on the fritz, I swear the whole building smelled like the big elephant at the entrance. I learned about cyanotype photographs in that class.
National Public Radio (NPR) Library--frankly, just the fact that their shows include librarians in the credits is reason enough for me to visit. Rock on, NPR.
White House Library--I'm dying to know: policy papers? Presidential biographies? Nora Roberts? I should point out that I don't mean the room you can see on a tour of the White House, but a real working library. I'm fairly certain that a classmate interviewed the librarian for some class project. Anybody have more information to help me on my library bucket list quest?
Keith Richard's library--come on, you know you want to know what he has stashed in his library. too!
And of course, any library that has stacks with wrought iron book shelves, dim lighting, warrens of rooms with floors that don't match up, possible glass floors (more glass floors), or the high potential that you may expire before finding your way out or to the bathroom.
What other libraries should I add to my bucket list?