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 Jun. 29Baseball Americana
Sat. Mar 23National Cherry Blossom Festival: Japanese Culture Day
Sat. Mar 23Aaron Diehl
Sat. Mar 23Collecting Red Sox History
Wed. Mar 27Alash Ensemble
Tue. Apr 2From Earth to Sky: Women Making a Difference in Geography
Thu. Apr 4National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement
Thu. Apr 4Reformat the Planet
Fri. Apr 5Jordan Sand
Fri. Apr 5Hi Score! Introducing a Game to its Music
Fri. Apr 5Copyrighting a Cartridge: An Inside Look at Copyright and Video Games
Fri. Apr 5National Cherry Blossom Festival: The Shrines at Ise: Architecture as Metaphor
Sat. Apr 6The Interface Between Composition, Sound and Video Game Design
Sat. Apr 6#DECLASSIFIED: Processing & Preserving Video Games
Thu. Apr 11Eva Salina and Peter Stan: Serbian and Roma music
Fri. Apr 12Jerusalem Quartet
Mon. Apr 15Mokoomba
Tue. Apr 16Americans’ Forgotten Love Affair with Opera
Thu. Apr 18Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Fri. Apr 19The Legacy of the New Dance Group
Sat. Apr 20Jazzmeia Horn Quintet
Wed. Apr 24Street Folk: Hip Hop, Car Culture, and Black Life in Houston, Texas
Sat. Apr 27Franz Liszt’s Sardanapalo
Sat. May 4Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio
Tue. May 14Dick Spottswood: A Discographer on the Record
Wed. May 15Gallery Talk: Glyphs on Pots: History of Maya Ceramics
Thu. May 16Jessye Norman
Thu. May 23North Mississippi Homeplace: Photographs and Folklife
Sat. Jun 1Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

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Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
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