The Library of Congress Is Your Library

from the Library of Congress in

Washington DC

the Library of Congress was established

by an act of Congress in 1800 when our

nation's capital was moved from

Philadelphia to Washington DC in August

of 1814 the Capitol building which

housed the library was burned by British

troops during the war of 1812 and the

library's core collection of 3,000

volumes was lost

within a month Thomas Jefferson offered

his personal library as a replacement

Congress accepted and paid nearly 24,000

dollars for six thousand four hundred

eighty seven books which more than

doubled the size of the original

collection the library's collections

have continued to grow librarian of


Ainsworth ran Spofford promoted the

passage of the copyright law of 1870

which required all copyright applicants

to send the library to copies of their

work the library is still the home of

the US Copyright Office and the majority

of items in the Library of Congress's

collections are received through the

copyright registration process in 1873

plans began for a new building in 1886

the plans were approved and what is now

called the Thomas Jefferson Building

opened in November 1897 the library now

occupies three buildings on Capitol Hill

the original building now called the

Jefferson building the John Adams

building built in 1938 and the James

Madison Memorial Building which was

completed in 1981 the Library of

Congress is the largest federal cultural

institution it houses more than 150

million items more than 36 million of

these are catalogued books and other

printed materials representing more than

470 languages many people think that the

library contains mostly books and it

does have many books however the library

also houses vast collections of other

items such as maps sheet music

photographs and prints sound recordings

motion pictures and manuscripts the

manuscripts total nearly 70 million and

include original copies of some of the

greatest handwritten treasures of

American history and culture among these

are Thomas Jefferson's original rough

draft of the Declaration of Independence

George Washington's first inaugural

address and Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg

Address the library has more than 20

reading rooms 850 miles of bookshelves

three million recordings and six million

pieces of sheet music the collections

are constantly growing the library

receives about 15,000 items a day and

about 12,000 items are added to the

collections each day that's more than

two million items a year items not

selected for the collections or other

internal purposes are used in the

library's national and international

exchange programs when its doors open to

the public in 1897 the Library of

Congress represented an unparalleled

national achievement the largest

costliest and safest library in the


it's elaborately decorated interior

embellished by works of art from nearly

50 American painters and sculptors link

the United States to classical

traditions of learning and

simultaneously flexed American cultural

and technological muscle this view of

the Great Hall is from the second floor

South Corridor and shows the elaborate

ceiling and floor designs this is a view

of the main reading room in the Thomas

Jefferson Building anyone 16 or older

and with a photo ID can register as a

reader and access materials from the

Library of Congress on site the Library

of Congress is grand and inspiring but

you don't have to go there to search the

treasures of the institution the

library's website offers millions of

digitized items all for free and without


this has been a presentation of the

Library of Congress visit us at