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
Fri. Apr 19The Legacy of the New Dance Group
Sat. Apr 20Jazzmeia Horn Quintet
Tue. Apr 23Earthrise: the Photograph that Changed the World
Wed. Apr 24On the Finland Watch
Wed. Apr 24Hip Hop, Car Culture, and Black Life in Houston, Texas
Wed. Apr 24Whitman 200: By the People Crowdsourcing Campaign
Thu. Apr 25Flint, Shield, and Fire: Exploring Ancient Maya Warfare
Thu. Apr 25Reach for Gold: Copyright and Sports
Sat. Apr 27Franz Liszt’s Sardanapalo
Mon. Apr 29Whittall Pavilion Open House
Tue. Apr 30The Lasting Effect of Lunar Exploration
Apr. 30 – Jul. 1150 Years of Stonewall: LGBTQ+ Activism in the U.S.
Wed. May 1Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society
Sat. May 4Conversation with Bill James
Sat. May 4Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio
Mon. May 6A History of Jews and Yale
Thu. May 9Playing Baseball Across the Pacific
Thu. May 9Solving the Puzzles of Planet Formation
Tue. May 14Dick Spottswood: A Discographer on the Record
Wed. May 15Glyphs on Pots: History of Maya Ceramics
May. 15 – Aug. 15Whitman 200: Whitman Bicentennial Display
Thu. May 16Jessye Norman
Thu. May 23North Mississippi Homeplace: Photographs and Folklife
Thu. May 23Conversation with Helen Zughaib
Thu. May 30Whitman 200: Happy Birthday Walt! – Digitized Walt Whitman Collections from the Manuscript Division
Sat. Jun 1Whitman 200: Walt Whitman’s Birthday Party
Sat. Jun 1Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Mon. Jun 3Whitman 200: Walt Whitman Open House
Jun. 4, 2019 – Sep. 1, 2020Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Thu. Jun 13Hurricane Hunting NASA Style
Wed. Jul 17Gallery Talk: Suffragists and Suffragettes
Thu. Aug 8Cosmic Explosions and Cosmic Accelerators
Thu. Sep 12The Recent Discovery of Organic Matter on Mars
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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Memorial Day Weekend
May 24-27, 2019
63°F   67°F   59°F
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Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
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