Library of Congress

The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. The legislation described a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress - and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…"

Established with $5,000 appropriated by the legislation, the original library was housed in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning and pillaging the contents of the small library.

Within a month, retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating books, "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science"; his library was considered to be one of the finest in the United States. In offering his collection to Congress, Jefferson anticipated controversy over the nature of his collection, which included books in foreign languages and volumes of philosophy, science, literature, and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library. He wrote, "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer."

Thomas Jefferson Building
First Street, SE, Entrances for All
Daytime Hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am-5pm

The James Madison Building
Visitor hours are from 8:30am to 9:30pm Mon- Fri. 8:30am-6:30pm on Sat.

All Library of Congress buildings are closed to the public on Sundays and federal holidays.
Thru Feb. 1, 2020Tour: Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building
Thru Sep. 1, 2020Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Thru Sep. 12, 2020Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages
Thru Jun. 30, 2022Tour: Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building
Sat. Nov 16Chopin: the Raphael of the Piano
Wed. Nov 20Irish Chamber Orchestra
Thu. Nov 21100 Years of Women Voting
Sat. Nov 23Leila Josefowicz, violin & John Novacek, piano
Thu. Dec 5Twin Spirits
Thu. Dec 5Space Lasers and Satellite Measurements
Fri. Dec 6Clara Schumann at 200
Sat. Dec 7#Declassified: Clara Schumann in the Library’s Collection
Wed. Dec 18Miró Quartet | Antonio Stradivari Memorial Concert
Thu. Jan 23, 2020A Band Called Death
Thu. Jan 30, 2020Dunedin Consort
Jan. 31 & Feb. 1, 2020Asko|Schönberg
Wed. Feb 5, 2020Skride Piano Quartet
Thu. Feb 6, 2020A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
Fri. Feb 7, 2020Phaeton Trio
Thu. Feb 13, 2020A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: BONNIE AND CLYDE
Sat. Feb 15, 2020A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: DOCTOR DOLITTLE
Sat. Feb 15, 2020Perfection: The Laurent Crystal Flute, 1807-1848
Wed. Feb 19, 2020Diversity and the Birth of Broadway: Early Black Authors of the American Musical
Thu. Feb 20, 2020A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNNER
Fri. Feb 21, 2020Miranda Cuckson & Friends
Wed. Feb 26, 2020A Power Stronger than Itself: the AACM and American Experimental Music
Thu. Feb 27, 2020A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: THE GRADUATE
Fri. Feb 28, 2020Sphinx Virtuosi
Sat. Feb 29, 2020Concerto Köln
Sat. Mar 7, 2020#Declassified: Rare & Rediscovered: Unearthing 300 Years of Musical Treasures
Thu. Mar 12, 2020Bartók Ballet: a New Life Onstage for a Landmark Coolidge Commission
Sat. Mar 14, 2020Arabesque Marouan Benabdallah
Tue. Mar 17, 2020Takács Quartet
Wed. Mar 18, 2020Tabea Zimmermann, viola | Javier Perianes, piano
Sat. Mar 28, 2020#Declassified: Manuscript Music for Men’s Chorus
Wed. Apr 1, 2020The Uncommon ‘Gift to be Simple:’ Japanese American Influence in Appalachian Spring
Sat. Apr 4, 2020Conrad Tao, piano | Caleb Teicher, tap dance
Thu. Apr 9, 2020Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool
Sat. Apr 11, 2020Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100
Thu. Apr 16, 2020The Ballad of Fred Hersch
Fri. Apr 17, 2020Bang on a Can All Stars | Field Recordings
Thu. Apr 23, 2020The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith
Sat. Apr 25, 2020#Declassified: The Beethoven Complex
May. 1 & 2, 2020Flux Quartet with Oliver Lake and Donal Fox
Fri. May 8, 2020International Contemporary Ensemble
Fri. May 15, 2020Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata: Two Visions
Sat. May 16, 2020#Declassified: Fly Space 3: Attack of the Stacks
Thu. May 28, 2020Big Band Evening: Strayhorn Known and Unknown
Fri. May 29, 2020Paris Blues
Sat. May 30, 2020Billy Strayhorn Symposium
Sat. May 30, 2020Anatomy of a Murder
Sat. May 30, 2020The Bill Charlap Trio with Jon Faddis
Fri. Jul 24, 2020Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

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Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
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