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 Jan. 1, 2019Herblock Gallery
Thru Jan. 1, 2019Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture
Thru Jan. 1, 2019Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood
Thru Jan. 1, 2019Here to Stay: The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin
Thru Jan. 1, 2019Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I
Thru Jan. 1, 2019Tour: Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building
Thru Jun. 29, 2019Baseball Americana
Wed. Dec 12Charles Lloyd and the Marvels and special guest Lucinda Williams
Thu. Dec 13Round Midnight and Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon
Tue. Dec 18Brentano Quartet With Hsin-Yun Huang, viola
Thu. Jan 10, 2019Film Screening: All That Jazz
Thu. Jan 17, 2019Film Screening: Gold Diggers of 1933
Thu. Jan 24, 2019Film Screening: Staying Alive
Thu. Jan 31, 2019Film Screening: Stepping Out
Thu. Feb 7, 2019Film Screening: The Sea Hawk
Sat. Feb 9, 2019#DECLASSIFIED: Recent Manuscript Acquisitions
Thu. Feb 14, 2019Film Screening: Kings Row
Fri. Feb 15, 2019Mnozil Brass
Tue. Feb 19, 2019Renaud Capuçon, violin & Guillaume Bellom, piano
Sat. Feb 23, 2019#DECLASSIFIED: In Search of Korngold
Sat. Feb 23, 2019Film Screening: Captain Blood & The Goonies
Thu. Feb 28, 2019Film Screening: The Sea Wolf
Sat. Mar 2, 2019#DECLASSIFIED: The Viola Sonata at 100
Fri. Mar 8, 2019Paul Lewis
Sat. Mar 9, 2019Jean Rondeau, harpsichord
Fri. Mar 15, 2019Ensemble Signal with Allison Cook, soprano
Fri. Mar 22, 2019Borodin Quartet
Sat. Mar 23, 2019Aaron Diehl
Thu. Apr 4, 2019Film Screening: Reformat the Planet
Fri. Apr 5, 2019Copyrighting a Cartridge: An Inside Look at Copyright and Video Games
Fri. Apr 5, 2019Hi Score! Introducing a Game to its Music
Sat. Apr 6, 2019#DECLASSIFIED: Processing & Preserving Video Games
Sat. Apr 6, 2019The Interface Between Composition, Sound and Video Game Design
Fri. Apr 12, 2019Jerusalem Quartet
Tue. Apr 16, 2019Americans’ Forgotten Love Affair with Opera
Thu. Apr 18, 2019Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Fri. Apr 19, 2019The Legacy of the New Dance Group
Sat. Apr 20, 2019Jazzmeia Horn Quintet
Sat. Apr 27, 2019Franz Liszt’s Sardanapalo
Sat. May 4, 2019Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio
Thu. May 16, 2019Conversation : Jessye Norman
Sat. Jun 1, 2019Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

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
Start Planning your
Holidays With The Arts
100+ Events Updated Daily
45°F   45°F   19°F
Plan Your Visit

Library of Congress

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