The Library of Congress was inaugurated on April 24, 1800, when US President John Adams signed an Act of Congress transferring national government headquarters from Philadelphia to the new federal capital, Washington.
The original library was hosted in the new Capitol until August 1814, when the invading British troops set fire to the Capitol building, destroying the small library content, which then contained only three thousand volumes. Within a month, former President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating books “storing everything that was related to the United States, and really all that is rare and valuable in every science.” His library was considered one of the best the United States. Jefferson, who was heavily indebted, sought to use the profit from the sale of books to pay off their debts with creditors.
He anticipated the discussion on the universe of his collection, which included books in foreign languages and philosophy volumes, science, literature and other topics that were not normally seen in a legislative library. He wrote: “I am aware that there is in my collection any branch of science which Congress would exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no matter that a member of Congress has not been able to use. ” In January 1815 the Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer allocating $ 23,950 in exchange for their 6487 books. The Jeffersonian concept of universality, the belief that all subjects are important to the legislative library of the United States, is the philosophy and the logic behind the library collection policies of Congress today. In December 1851, there was a fire in the library of congress. The fire destroyed 35,000 books, an original portrait of Christopher Columbus, portraits of the first five presidents of the United States painted by Gilbert Stuart and statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette.
The library had, in 2009, more than 32 million cataloged books, more than 63 million manuscripts, 3 million sound recordings, more than 5 million maps, 16 million microformase the largest collection of rare books in North America including one of the four remaining copies of the Gutenberg Bible on vellum paper. The library is open to the general public for academic research and tourists can also visit her. But only those with the “reader’s identification card” can join in the reading rooms and have access to the collection. However, only members of Congress, judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, its employees, employees of the Library of Congress and some other government officials can really make a thorough examination of the books.
Located in three buildings in the US capital, Washington, DC, Library of Congress has more than 155 million items, including materials available in 470 languages, setting the world’s library storage space and number of books.