Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world.  Established in 1800, it is the country's oldest federal cultural institution serving the Congress as its primary research facility.  The Library of Congress sustains and preserves a universal collection of knowledge that include more than 29 milllion books and printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographes, 4.8 million maps, and 57 million manuscripts.

President Thomas Jefferson approved the first law defining the role and functions of the new institution in 1802.  Jefferson believed that the power of the intellect could shape a free and democratic society.  As a man who stated he could not live without books, he took a keen interest in the Library of Congress and its collection while he was president of the United States from 1801-1809. Throughout his presidency, he personally recommended books for the Library, and he appointed the first two Librarians of Congress.

The Library of Congress occupies three massive structures on Capitol Hill, near the U.S. Capitol. The Jefferson Building, opened in 1897; is a grand monument to civilization, culture, and American achievement. The functional Adams Building was opened in 1939. The modern Madison Building, completed in 1980, is by far the largest structure. About two million researchers, scholars, and tourists visit the Library of Congress each year and millions more use its services.

Details & Events

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  • Library of Congress
  • 101 Independence Ave, SE
  • Washington, DC 20540
  • (202) 707-5000
  • Directions
  • Web site

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