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Library of Congress

Library of Congress
blue logo of book open to blue stripe flag page      schematic round seal of eagle of the Library of Congress
Flag of the United States Library of Congress 2.svg
Flag of the Library of Congress
Established April 24, 1800; 216 years ago (1800-04-24)
Location Washington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates 38°53′19″N 77°00′17″W / 38.88861°N 77.00472°W / 38.88861; -77.00472Coordinates: 38°53′19″N 77°00′17″W / 38.88861°N 77.00472°W / 38.88861; -77.00472
Branches N/A
Collection
Size

23,892,068 catalogued books in the Library of Congress Classification system; 5,711 incunabula (books printed before 1500), 14,067,260 monographs and serials, music, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports, and other printed material; and 122,810,430 items in the nonclassified (special) collections:

160,775,469 total Items
Access and use
Circulation Library does not publicly circulate
Population served 535 members of the United States Congress, their staff, and members of the public
Other information
Budget $598,402,000
Director Carla Hayden (Librarian of Congress)
Staff 3,224
Website www.loc.gov

23,892,068 catalogued books in the Library of Congress Classification system; 5,711 incunabula (books printed before 1500), 14,067,260 monographs and serials, music, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports, and other printed material; and 122,810,430 items in the nonclassified (special) collections:

The Library of Congress ("LOC") is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, which houses the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages. Two-thirds of the books it acquires each year are in languages other than English."

The Library of Congress moved to Washington in 1800, after sitting for eleven years in the temporary national capitals of New York (New York City) and Philadelphia. John J. Beckley, who became the first Librarian of Congress, was paid two dollars per day and was required to also serve as the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The small Congressional Library was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century until the early 1890s. Most of the original collection had been destroyed by the British in 1814, during the War of 1812. To restore its collection in 1815, the library bought from former president Thomas Jefferson his entire personal collection of 6,487 books.



  • American Memory created in 1990, which became The National Digital Library in 1994, providing free access online to digitized American history and culture resources with curatorial explanations for K-12 education.
  • THOMAS.gov website launched in 1994 to provide free public access to U.S. federal legislative information with ongoing updates; and CONGRESS.gov website to provide a state-of-the-art framework for both Congress and the public in 2012;
  • The National Book Festival, founded in 2000 with Laura Bush, has brought over 1000 authors and a million guests to the National Mall and the Washington Convention Center to celebrate reading. With a major gift from David Rubenstein in 2013, the Library also established the Library of Congress Literacy Awards to recognize and support achievements in improving literacy in the U.S. and abroad;
  • The Kluge Center, started with a grant of $60 million from John W. Kluge in 2000 to bring scholars and researchers from around the world to use Library resources and to interact with policymakers and the public. It hosts public lectures and scholarly events, provides endowed Kluge fellowships, and awards The Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity (now worth $1.5 million), the first Nobel-level international prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences (subjects not included in the Nobel awards);
  • Open World Leadership Center, established in 2000, administered 23,000 professional exchanges for emerging post-Soviet leaders in Russia, Ukraine and the other successor states of the former USSR by 2015. Open World began as a Library of Congress project, and later became an independent agency in the legislative branch.
  • The Veterans History Project, congressionally mandated in 2000 to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans from WWI to the present day;
  • The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, which opened in 2007 at a 45-acre site in Culpeper, Virginia with the largest private gift ever made to the Library (more than $150 million by the Packard Humanities Institute) and $82.1 million additional support from Congress. In 1988, The Library also established the National Film Preservation Board, a congressionally mandated National Film Preservation Board to select American films annually for preservation and inclusion in the new National Registry. The Librarian named 650 films to the Registry by 2015;
  • The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, launched in 2007 to honor the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in song composition. Winners have included Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, and just-named Willie Nelson for November 2015. The Library also launched the Living Legend Awards in 2000 to honor artists, activists, filmmakers, and others who have contributed to America's diverse cultural, scientific, and social heritage;
  • The Fiction Prize (now the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction) started in 2008 to recognize distinguished lifetime achievement in the writing of fiction.
  • The World Digital Library, established in association with UNESCO and 181 partners in 81 countries in 2009, to make online copies of professionally curated primary materials of the world's varied cultures freely available in multiple languages.
  • National Jukebox launched in 2011 to provide streaming free online access to more than 10,000 out-of-print music and spoken word recordings.
  • BARD in 2013, digital talking books mobile app for Braille and Audio Reading Downloads in partnership with the Library's National Library Service for the blind and physically handicapped, that enables free downloads of audio and Braille books to mobile devices via the Apple App Store.
  • Aikin, Jane (2010). "Histories of the Library of Congress". Libraries & the Cultural Record. 45 (1): 5–24. doi:10.1353/lac.0.0113. 
  • Anderson, Gillian B. (1989), "Putting the Experience of the World at the Nation's Command: Music at the Library of Congress, 1800-1917", Journal of the American Musicological Society, 42 (1): 108–49, doi:10.2307/831419 
  • Bisbort, Alan, and Linda Barrett Osborne. The Nation's Library: The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. (Library of Congress, 2000)
  • Cole, John Young. Jefferson's legacy: a brief history of the Library of Congress (Library of Congress, 1993)
  • Cole, John Young. "The library of congress becomes a world library, 1815-2005." Libraries & culture (2005) 40#3: 385-398. in Project MUSE
  • Cope, R. L. "Management Review of the Library of Congress: The 1996 Booz Allen & Hamilton Report," Australian Academic & Research Libraries (1997) 28#1 online
  • Mearns, David Chambers. The Story Up To Now: The Library Of Congress, 1800-1946 (1947), detailed narrative
  • Ostrowski, Carl. Books, Maps, and Politics: A Cultural History of the Library of Congress, 1783-1861 (2004) online
  • Rosenberg, Jane Aiken. The Nation's Great Library: Herbert Putnam and the Library of Congress, 1899–1939 (University of Illinois Press, 1993)
  • Shevlin, Eleanor F.; Lindquist, Eric N. (2010). "The Center for the Book and the History of the Book". Libraries & the Cultural Record. 45 (1): 56–69. doi:10.1353/lac.0.0112. 
  • Tabb, Winston; et al. (2003). "Library of Congress". Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. 3: 1593–1612. 
  • Cole, John Y. and Henry Hope Reed. The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building (1998) excerpt and text search
  • Small, Herbert, and Henry Hope Reed. The Library of Congress: Its Architecture and Decoration (1983)
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