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Out of Africa

barack obama boypic.jpg

If you were a ghost there would be worse places to haunt than the Library of Congress.

I could happily while away eternity there, my insubstantial form sliding through the stacks, pausing to read all the things I never got around to reading in life. If I had forever, perhaps I could make my way through the 138,313,427 items in the library's collection.

Of course, you don't have to be dead to enjoy the LC (as those in the know call it). You don't even have to like books particularly. Just go take a look at the ornate Jefferson Building or check out one of the periodic exhibits mounted by the library. For example, there's an exhibition of African Obama-related artifacts on display through June 30 in Room 220 of the Jefferson Building (10 First St. SE). According to the library:

The display of 55 items from the collection of more than 100 items includes newspapers from several countries in the region including Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Niger, Cameroon and Uganda. Headlines read “Oba-Magic!” “Prophecy Fulfilled,” “The Obama Sensation!” The display also includes textiles (kangas) made in Tanzania, often worn by women during elections, featuring the image of Barack Obama and texts in Swahili with messages of congratulations, good wishes or echoing the president’s call for change. T-shirts with the president’s photo and slogans like “Kenya Says Yes We Can,” as well as baseball caps with “Obama” printed on them, are exhibited in glass cases. Campaign buttons with statements like “Kenya…Proudly Obama’s Roots” and framed photographs of the American president are also included.

The artifacts were collected by the library's field office in Nairobi. Who even knew the Library of Congress had a Nairobi field office? It has similar operations in Cairo, Islamabad, Jakarta, New Delhi and Rio de Janeiro. Why does Hollywood make all these movies about CIA agents? Shouldn't it be making one about intrepid librarians serving in far-flung places, chasing down rare books and periodicals?

By John Kelly  |  March 25, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
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That Swedish band page has been going around musician-oriented message boards for quite some time. I'm surprised you hadn't seen it already. I especially like the aptly-named Schytts.

Posted by: Epigon | March 25, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Among LC highlights, don't forget the room full of suggestive portraits of adolescent boys. It's not as explicit as the fountain out front, but it's probably dirtier.

Posted by: Southwester | March 25, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It appears you have missed the three episodes of "The Librarian" made-for-TV movies with Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, and Jane Curtin.

Posted by: DLDx | March 26, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Thank you John Kelly for noticing our work! It was quite a hoot collecting some of the Obamabilia over here! I hope the display included the Obama Whisky and Brandy that we got from Zambia with the label "The winning spirit!"

Pamela Howard-Reguindin, Field Director of the LC Nairobi Office

Posted by: pamelahr | March 30, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

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