Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the library of the United States. It was established in 1800, originally located in the Capital but moved to its current building in 1897 (which has 1890 on the cornerstone). When first established, it was for the use of members of Congress but is now available to anyone doing research. According to their website, “The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 162 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 38 million books and other print materials, 3.6 million recordings, 14 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 7.1 million pieces of sheet music and 70 million manuscripts.”

The public tours take visitors into the elaborate Grand Hall and to other parts of the library where several old books and historical artifacts are on display. I think the highlight of the public area is Thomas Jefferson’s library. The Main Reading Room and other Research Centers aren’t open to the general public, but to those who have registered as researchers.

Library of Congress
The exterior of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress
Library of Congress tunnel
Entrance to the tunnel to the Library of Congress from the Capital
Library of Congress tunnel
The tunnel from the Capital to the Library of Congress
Library of Congress tunnel
The tunnel from the Capital to the Library of Congress
Library of Congress tunnel
Entrance to the Library of Congress from the tunnel from the Capital
Library of Congress Main Reading Room
The Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
There are many spiral staircases around the Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
The Main Reading Room
Library of Congress dome
The dome in the Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
The Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
The Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
A view of the Main Reading Room from one of the alcoves
Library of Congress
The Main Reading Room
Library of Congress
At the main entrance in the Grand Hall
Library of Congress Grand Hall
The Grand Hall
Library of Congress mosaic
Mosaic in the Grand Hall
Library of Congress Grand Hall
The Grand Hall
Jefferson's library
Part of Thomas Jefferson’s library on display in the public-access portion of the library
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible on display in the public-access portion of the library

The Library of Congress is not just the more recognizable Jefferson Building but includes three buildings on Capital Hill: The Thomas Jefferson Building, The James Madison Building and the John Adams Building. They are named after presidents who had some special connection to the library.

Library of Congress
This postcard shows the three buildings of the Library of Congress. The central building is the Thomas Jefferson Building. To the right is the James Madison Building. The John Adams building is the large building behind the TJ building. (Photo from LoC postcard)
James Madison Building
The James Madison Building of the Library of Congress
The James Madison Building
Inside the James Madison Building

 

James Madison Building
Statue of James Madison inside the James Madison Building

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