Everything with an ISBN

Library of Congress Visit

Irulan Cockrum

Today we visited the Library of Congress. Inside the building there are beautiful sculptures and works of art that are accompanied by quotations related to the art in interesting ways. For example, under the word comedy was a painting of a woman holding a mask with a frown on it. Most of the art was of women, nature, and animals. The library holds everything published with an IBS code. The library also features a room containing important photographs and their descriptions. 

At first, I was not very impressed or surprised by the library. I have visited many churches in El Salvador that have just as much if not more art and architectural detail. However, when I entered the room with the photographs, I was surprised by the number and variety of photos of Native Americans, cats, regular people, and protesters. I spent a long time admiring a panorama photograph of smiling women in their swimsuits at the beach. The picture was taken at the bikini competition for a Miss California title in the 1920s.

Cooper Padilla

In between interviews today, we visited the Library of Congress. I wasn’t sure about going because we have had a long week, and I was tired, but I decided to go because I probably wouldn’t get to see it again otherwise. My classmates and I made our way down the street towards the library and began reflecting on the trip. Today was hotter than most days, but the plants were green and gave me something to look at while I pondered. I was beginning to gather together what I learned in the past week and organize it in some way. 

As we entered the building, I was still gathering my thoughts, but then I became distracted by the amazing architecture and art. There were exhibits to explore, things to read, and more to learn, but I was already full of new feelings and ideas, so I just wandered around and looked at the architecture. I saw some quotations on the ceiling that were compelling. One in particular caught my eye: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” I related this idea to my ambitions as a musician, replacing reading, conference, and writing, with listening, performing, and practicing. The quotation seemed obvious to me at first glance, but the wording struck me more deeply upon greater reflection. Being full, ready, and exact are all values I wish to achieve musically, and seeing that quotation really helped me to reflect on them.

To be honest, I expected that DC would just be full of uptight politicians who are unrelatable and distant. I didn’t expect that their ambitions and motivations would align with mine. Coming to the end of this trip, I’m left with a completely different perspective. Even though their paths through life are probably very different from mine, much of what they said applies to me and my classmates. Working hard, keeping an open mind, and seeking authenticity are key values that I learned on this trip, and the library surprisingly tied it all together for me.