Insurrection in DC Evacuates Library of Congress; Closes DC Public Library Early

On the afternoon of January 6, as Congress prepared to count the electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building. The Capitol was evacuated and placed on lockdown, including the Library of Congress offices in the James Madison Memorial Building.

exterior of James Madison building
James Madison Memorial Building

On the afternoon of January 6, as Congress prepared to count the electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building. The Capitol was evacuated and placed on lockdown, including the Library of Congress offices in the James Madison Memorial Building. One person was reported shot inside the Capitol Building; details were not known at press time.

Several suspicious packages were reportedly found in the area, including in the Madison Building, according to Fox News.

LJ was informed that Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden was not on the library’s campus at the time and is safe. Further inquiries were directed to the Capitol Police, who at press time have not yet responded.

All members of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including Director Crosby Kemper, were working remotely.

Members of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office were also reported safe, with ALA President Julius Jefferson teleworking and away from the area.

The Gelman, Himmelfarb and Jacob Burns Law libraries at George Washington University in Bethesda had shut down in-person services as of January 5 in advance of potential protests. Libraries at Georgetown University and Howard University are also closed until further notice.

Because of a 6 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, all locations of the DC Public Library closed at 3 p.m. At press time all locations were reported safe.

Several members of the DC library community are also members of the National Guard, and have been deployed to serve the Capitol area.

On January 7, ALA issued a statement condeming the violence that read, in part, "ALA forcefully condemns the violent attempts to undermine the integrity of our electoral process and our democracy. The threats, destruction of government buildings, and looting witnessed on January 6 do not constitute peaceful protest, but domestic terrorism."

The statement went on to add, "Libraries in America defend the constitutional rights of all individuals and are cornerstones of the communities they serve. We celebrate and preserve our democratic society so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners and engaged residents—informed, literate, educated, and culturally enriched. A growing number of elected officials are awake to the value of their libraries; but many have yet to understand the role libraries play in the education and employment of their constituents and the economic empowerment of their communities. There is much more work to do."

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero responded to the riots with his recollection of events. He wrote, "Yesterday I stood at my office window overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and watched the angry mob make its way from the Ellipse rally to Capitol Hill. Waving Confederate flags and Trump 2020 campaign banners, chanting 'Stop the Steal,' 'Four More Years,' and 'USA, USA, USA,' these fellow Americans were on their way to disrupt a sacred ceremonial rite of transition in which the National Archives plays an important role. Having watched and listened to the charged language of the rally speeches, I was even more concerned as I watched this mob move by." He spoke of his pride in the National Archives' role in administering the Electoral College process, and Congress's work late into the night to certify the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President of the United States.

Author Image
Lisa Peet

lpeet@mediasourceinc.com

Lisa Peet is News Editor for Library Journal.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?