Publishing and Politics

Library of Congress Shuttered, Citizens’ Access to Universal Education Restricted

When the Library of Congress published a free edition of Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress, Ralph Eubanks, former Director of Publishing at the Library, noted in his introduction

Most important, this free, electronic book fulfills Thomas Jefferson’s belief in universal education. “…Enlighten the people generally,” he urged, “and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

While the book is still freely available online through ProtoBooks, the Library of Congress and all of its holdings – physical and digital – are shuttered until the Federal Government shutdown is resolved. Their website,, has not been updated since the shutdown began on October 1, 2013, and the error message that appears there is a chilling contrast to the aforementioned words of Jefferson, its founder:

Federal Government Shutdown

Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, all Library buildings are closed, all public events are canceled, and all inquiries and requests to the Library of Congress web-based services will not be received or responded to until the shutdown ends. Information on is not being updated.

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