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About this collection

Brief History of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress (LOC) has a rich and storied past. Founded in 1800, President John Adams approved an act of Congress providing $5,000 for books for the use of Congress—the beginning of the Library of Congress. Over the 200+ year history, the LOC has grew exponentially but also suffering drastic losses in that time period. A notable loss is in 1814, the British burned Washington, destroying the Capitol and the small congressional library in its north wing. It was then Thomas Jefferson who sold his personal library comprised of 6487 books to congress for $23,950. In 1897 Congress constructed a much-needed separate library building. The building was constructed in the Italian Renaissance style was the largest library in the world when it opened in 1897. In 1980 the building was named for Thomas Jefferson. As time passed and the collection within the library grew, so did the addition to the building. In 1980, the opening of the James Madison Memorial Building. In addition, in 1984 a multi-year restoration and modernization of the Jefferson and Adams Buildings was taken on. 

 

As it stands today, the Library receives some 15,000 items each working day and adds approximately 12,000 items to the collections daily. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with more than 168 million items. Since its creation, the library has become much more than just books. The Library of Congress house, preserves, and share our country’s cultural heritage. This digital library of the Library of Congress helps to highlight the different aspects historical and cultural pieces within the collection, and the library has more information to offer rather than just books.

 
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