Library of Congress
The Library of Congress, the national library of the United States, is one of the most important libraries in the world. Originally founded as a research library for the United States Congress April 24th 1800, its original collection were the books of former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. Later the Library assumed a role as a legal repository to guarantee copyright protection. All authors seeking American copyright had to submit two copies of the work to the Library. This requirement is no longer enforced, but copies of many books published in the US still arrive at the Library regularly. It contains many important books and collections, such as a Gutenberg Bible.
The Library itself is spread over three buildings in Washington, DC:
- The James Madison Building (between 1st & 2nd Streets on Independence Ave SE)
- The Thomas Jefferson Building (between Independence Ave & East Capitol Sts on 1st St SE),
- The John Adams Building (between Independence Ave & East Capitol Sts on 2nd St SE)
The Library also developed a system of book classification called Library of Congress classification (LC) which is used by most research and university libraries, although most public libraries continue to use the Dewey decimal system.
With over 115 million items, it is one of the largest libraries in the history of the world, surpassed only by the British Library, which contains over 150 million items.
The library is open to the general public for academic research, and runs tours for visitors. Only people with a permit can enter the reading room and access the collection. Permits are available in the Madison building upon presentation of a picture ID.
It is estimated that the text of the print holdings of the Library of Congress would, if digitized, constitute 17 to 20 terabytes of information. Only tiny, selected portions of its holdings have actually been digitized, and the Library currently has no plans for systematic digitization of any significant portion of its holdings.
Librarians of Congress
The head of the Library of Congress is called the Librarian of Congress. The list of past Librarians of Congress includes several notable figures:
- John J. Beckley (1802 - 1807
- Patrick Magruder (1807 - 1815)
- George Watterston (1815 - 1829)
- John Silva Meehan (1829 - 1861)
- John G. Stephenson (1861 - 1864)
- Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1864 - 1897)
- John Russell Young (1897 - 1899)
- Herbert Putnam (1899 - 1939)
- Archibald MacLeish (1939 - 1944)
- Luther H. Evans (1945 - 1953)
- L. Quincy Mumford (1954 - 1974)
- Daniel J. Boorstin (1975 - 1987)
- James H. Billington (1987 - )
- Library of Congress Country Studies
- Congressional Research Service
- Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
- Library of Congress Living Legend
- Library of Congress Classification