MERRILLVILLE | Replicas of some of the most significant documents in American history will roll into the Lake County Public Library's parking lot next week.
The Library of Congress' Gateway to Knowledge, an 18-wheel semitrailer that expands to three times its traveling size, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 outside the county's main library, 1919 W. 81st. Ave.
The free exhibition is set to bring high-quality replicas of many of the library's treasures to more than 60 communities across the Midwest in the coming year.
The truck, which will be staffed and driven by two Library of Congress docents, features a central staircase and several areas of museum-style exhibits, including a welcoming multimedia display and computer terminals displaying Library of Congress websites.
The exhibition will outline the history of the Library of Congress, including Thomas Jefferson's role in re-establishing it when he provided his personal book collection to the nation after the burning of the U.S. Capitol in 1814.
The exhibition also will feature facsimiles of the 1507 Waldseemüller Map, which was the first document to use the word "America," the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, the 1962 drawings for the comic book that introduced Spider-Man to the world, a handwritten manuscript by jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton, Walt Whitman's poem "Leaves of Grass" and a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution.