Washington D.C.’s Library of Congress has existed since 1800. However, it opened its doors to the public on November 1, 1897; thus we are celebrating its 112th anniversary of being open to the public.
According to its Web site, the Library of Congress is “the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution.” Aside from being a public library, it’s also the research arm of Congress. That’s similar to how the PA State Library in Harrisburg works; it’s a public library, but it is also a federal repository and the main source of research information for the state government offices. But that’s a lesson for a blog post next week.
The Library Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800. The original library was in the Capitol until August of 1814, when the British invaded and set fire to the building. In September of 1814, Thomas Jefferson offered his collection as a replacement for the library. His collection formed the nucleus of today’s Library of Congress.
Today, according to its Web site, the Library of Congress is “the largest library in the world.” The site also says the collection contains over 130 million items, including: more than 29 million cataloged print materials; more than 58 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings. The U.S. Copyright Office is also located in the library, and so is a separate law library.
The Library of Congress occupies three buildings on Capitol Hill — the Thomas Jefferson Building, the John Adams Building and the James Madison Building. If you’re ever in the D.C. area, stop by and check it out. For more information about visiting the library, or for any other information about it, click here.