Library of Congress

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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 Jul. 27Baseball Americana
Thru Aug. 17Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times
Thru Aug. 15Whitman Bicentennial Display
Thru Sep. 1, 2020Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Tue. Jul 16David Axelrod and Karl Rove on Leadership in an Age of Political Conflict
Wed. Jul 17Gallery Talk: Suffragists and Suffragettes
Thu. Jul 18LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn: Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Thu. Jul 18LOC Concerts on the Lawn: Elena & Los Fulanos
Thu. Jul 25LOC Concerts on the Lawn: BYTES & BEATS: Shing02 and Fat Jon
Thu. Jul 25Cedric Watson
Thu. Jul 25LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn: A League of Their Own
Thu. Aug 1LOC Concerts on the Lawn: ENTATY Music & Go-Go Dance Workshop
Thu. Aug 1LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn: Jaws
Sat. Aug 3Asian American Literature Festival
Wed. Aug 7Lakota John Locklear
Thu. Aug 8LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Thu. Aug 8LOC Concerts on the Lawn: KanKouran West African Dance Company
Thu. Aug 8Cosmic Explosions and Cosmic Accelerators
Thu. Aug 15The Murphy Beds
Thu. Aug 15Duffy
Thu. Aug 15LOC Concerts on the Lawn: Verny Varela Combo & Salsa Dancing
Thu. Aug 15LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn: Jurassic Park
Wed. Aug 21Archive Challenge Sampler Concert
Sat. Aug 31Library of Congress National Book Festival
Thu. Sep 12The Recent Discovery of Organic Matter on Mars
Thu. Sep 19Les Filles de Illighadad
Thu. Oct 17The Ionosphere: Exploring our Electric Atmosphere
Thu. Nov 7From Sun to Solar Wind: The Perplexing Solar Corona
Thu. Dec 5Space Lasers and Satellite Measurements

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Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
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