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 Sep. 1Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Thru Sep. 12Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages
Thru Jun. 30, 2022Tour: Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building
Thru Sep. 30Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words
Thru Jan. 1, 2022Tour: Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building
Thu. Jan 30Dunedin Consort
Jan. 31 & Feb. 1Asko|Schönberg
Wed. Feb 5Skride Piano Quartet
Wed. Feb 5Gallery Talk: Rosa Parks, Before the Bus
Thu. Feb 6A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
Fri. Feb 7Phaeton Trio
Thu. Feb 13The Life and Legacy of Rosa Parks
Thu. Feb 13A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: BONNIE AND CLYDE
Sat. Feb 15A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: DOCTOR DOLITTLE
Sat. Feb 15Perfection: The Laurent Crystal Flute, 1807-1848
Wed. Feb 19Diversity and the Birth of Broadway: Early Black Authors of the American Musical
Wed. Feb 19Gallery Talk: More to the Movement
Thu. Feb 20A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNNER
Fri. Feb 21Miranda Cuckson & Friends
Sat. Feb 22Alban Berg in the Library's Collections
Wed. Feb 26A Power Stronger than Itself: the AACM and American Experimental Music
Thu. Feb 27A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968: THE GRADUATE
Fri. Feb 28Sphinx Virtuosi
Sat. Feb 29Concerto Köln
Sat. Mar 7#Declassified: Rare & Rediscovered: Unearthing 300 Years of Musical Treasures
Thu. Mar 12Bartók Ballet: a New Life Onstage for a Landmark Coolidge Commission
Sat. Mar 14Arabesque Marouan Benabdallah
Tue. Mar 17Takács Quartet
Wed. Mar 18Tabea Zimmermann, viola | Javier Perianes, piano
Sat. Mar 28#Declassified: Manuscript Music for Men’s Chorus
Tue. Mar 31The Uncommon ‘Gift to be Simple:’ Japanese American Influence in Appalachian Spring
Sat. Apr 4Conrad Tao, piano | Caleb Teicher, tap dance
Thu. Apr 9Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool
Sat. Apr 11Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100
Thu. Apr 16The Ballad of Fred Hersch
Fri. Apr 17Bang on a Can All Stars | Field Recordings
Thu. Apr 23The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith
Sat. Apr 25#Declassified: The Beethoven Complex
May. 1 & 2Flux Quartet with Oliver Lake and Donal Fox
Fri. May 8International Contemporary Ensemble
Wed. May 13Drumming Workshop with Terry Lyne Carrington
Wed. May 13Jazz and Gender Justice
Fri. May 15Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata: Two Visions
Sat. May 16#Declassified: Fly Space 3: Attack of the Stacks
Thu. May 28Big Band Evening: Strayhorn Known and Unknown
Fri. May 29Paris Blues
Sat. May 30The Bill Charlap Trio with Jon Faddis
Sat. May 30Billy Strayhorn Symposium
Sat. May 30Anatomy of a Murder
Fri. Jul 24Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

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Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
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