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Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Jefferson building
Library of Congress, Jefferson building

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)
Main Library of Congress Building at the start of the 20th century
Main Library of Congress Building at the start of the 20th century

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 United States Library of Congress is a source for public domain image resources such as those used in the Wikipedia.

Library of Congress reading room
Library of Congress reading room

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:

See also

External links

Last updated: 11-08-2004 11:20:12