Library of Congress

Add to favorites

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 Jul. 1150 Years of Stonewall: LGBTQ+ Activism in the U.S.
Thru Aug. 15Whitman 200: Whitman Bicentennial Display
Thu. May 30Whitman 200: Happy Birthday Walt! – Digitized Walt Whitman Collections from the Manuscript Division
Sat. Jun 1Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Sat. Jun 1Whitman 200: Walt Whitman’s Birthday Party
Mon. Jun 3Whitman 200: Walt Whitman Open House
Tue. Jun 4The Cartographic History of Afghanistan
Jun. 4, 2019 – Sep. 1, 2020Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Sat. Jun 8Rhyming the Archives: Youth Poetry Slam
Wed. Jun 12DC JazzFest: Exploring the Billy Strayhorn Collection
Thu. Jun 13African Sons of God
Thu. Jun 13Hurricane Hunting NASA Style
Tue. Jun 25Los Cenzontles
Wed. Jul 17Gallery Talk: Suffragists and Suffragettes
Thu. Jul 25Cedric Watson
Wed. Aug 7Lakota John Locklear
Thu. Aug 8Cosmic Explosions and Cosmic Accelerators
Thu. Aug 15The Murphy Beds
Wed. Aug 21Archive Challenge Sampler Concert
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

Historic Sites Music Museums Lectures & Talks

Advanced Search
Search by name, range of dates, type, and category
Looking for a Job in
The Arts? Check
CultureCapital's Job Bank
Planning Guide For
Memorial Day Weekend
May 24-27, 2019
69°F   63°F   86°F
Plan Your Visit

Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
Dining Suggestions
A program ofCultureCapital Sponsors