On November 1, 1897, a brand new Library of Congress building opened in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress began its life in the Congressional Reading Room in the U.S. Capitol, but quickly outgrew the provided space. Congress approved construction of a new library building in 1886, and when its doors opened, the new Library of Congress, known today as the Thomas Jefferson Building, was billed as “the largest, the costliest, and the safest” library building in the world.
Today, the Library of Congress holds millions of books, photographs, recordings, maps, manuscripts, and more, making it an incredible source of public information. It is also the home of the U.S. Copyright Office and the Congressional Research Service, which directly supplies Congress with unbiased information on a wide variety of subjects. All of this information is housed in three buildings in Washington, D.C.: the Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Memorial Building, and the John Adams Building. The Library also owns the Packard Campus in Virginia, home of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, and a storage facility in Maryland.
Some Library of Congress trivia:
- The Library of Congress holds more than 167 million items on 838 miles of bookshelves. That’s a lot of public information!
- Anyone age 16 and older can use the collections housed in the Library of Congress for research, though the materials can only be used on site.
- The Library of Congress works with institutions around the world to provide content through the World Digital Library.
- Every working day, the Library acquires approximately 15,000 items.
- The Law Library of Congress holds 2.9 million volumes, making it the largest law library in the world.
- At more than 140,000 items, the Library owns the world’s largest collection of comic books.
- You can access the digital collections of the Library of Congress without leaving your home.
- If you’re a fan of libraries and public information (who isn’t?) and are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., you can take a tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building.