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Tonight's required TV viewing: C-SPAN's special on the secrets within the Library of Congress

July 18, 2011 |  6:24 am

Railroad Transcontinental completed 1869 Library of Congress Promontory Summit Utah

TiVo alert for tonight:

Regular Ticket readers know of our enduring admiration for C-SPAN's enduring contributions and value to the flow of information in a modern operating democracy. Which the U.S. may become someday.

Take just C-SPAN's video archive alone, every C-SPAN program ready for viewing and searching by name and subject, back to 1987, all free online and bookmarkable right here.

Now comes the latest major video project in the network's long history, a 90-minute documentary on the 211-year-old Library of Congress, the unique institution that so many think is merely a library for Congress.

It's much more, of course. See a video excerpt below of the new C-SPAN program, which debuts tonight at 5 and 8 p.m. Pacific

If you took one minute to look at every photograph stored in the Library, you'd spend 24 years looking at stored photographs. Like the one above of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. That was also the last time a U.S. passenger train was on time.

Ten minutes to pore over each map in the Library? 100+ years. Or a day with each book on the Library of Congress' shelves? If you started today, that would take the next 60,000 years and bipartisanship still wouldn't be in Washington fashion when you finished.

The documentary also solves some mysteries that even Nicolas Cage can't conjure. Where did the Library order its first books from in 1800? What word did Thomas Jefferson smudge off an early draft of the Declaration of Independence?

Like we said, TiVo this one.


C-SPAN: This program is 31 years long

C-SPAN ranks presidents: Abe on top and a shocker on the bottom

OMG! The Library of Congress acquires every Tweet ever Twittered

 -- Andrew Malcolm

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Video courtesy of C-SPAN.      Photo: Library of Congress (Completion of the transcontinental railroad, 1869, Promontory Summit, Utah).