CELEBRATING 200 YEARS OF AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENT
Located across the street from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. stands one of the world's greatest tributes to human knowledge: the Library of Congress.
Started in 1800 by a congressional act and with $5,000 to purchase books for the use of Congress, the Library of Congress, "America's Library," celebrated its bicentennial on
The unparalleled collections of the Library of Congress comprise the world's most comprehensive record of human creativity. Its three massive structures, the Jefferson, Adams, and Madison Buildings, contain 119 million items, including sound recordings, films, manuscripts, photographs, musical scores, 18 million books, and much more.
President Thomas Jefferson played a pivotal role in the Library's development. An avid learner and lifelong collector of books, he sold his personal library of 6,487 books to Congress for $23,950 after the British burned the new Capitol and Library in 1814. With that purchase, the Library of Congress began collecting according to Jefferson's belief that there was "no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer."
Today, the Library of Congress has far outgrown its early role as the library for America's legislature. As "America's Library," the Library of Congress is the largest library of our nation and the world, with an extraordinary collection of materials in many formats and more than 460 languages. Every year, millions of Americans use its 21 reading rooms or access its American Memory Web site of unique manuscripts, photographs, films, sound recordings, maps, and more. Millions more tour its magnificently restored 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building during their visit to Washington and take advantage of the opportunity to see the Library's treasures featured in exhibitions located near the Great Hall.
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