The Library of Congress, located in Washington DC was established in the year 1800 as resource for members of Congress. The original collection focused on legal books although the Library of Congress’s collection has expanded significantly since then.
After the destruction of the first Library during the War of 1812, former President Jefferson sold his personal library, consisting of a wide variety of topics to the Library of Congress to help rebuild the collection. The Thomas Jefferson building, which houses the Library of Congress, reflects Jefferson’s contribution to the conception and growth of the Library. The library grew in bursts, expanding its collection to include American literature and eventually comprising 840,000 volumes by the construction of the Thomas Jefferson building in 1897. The other two main Library buildings are the John Adams and James Madison buildings.
What are the contents of the Library of Congress?
The Library of Congress proceeded to expand its collection to artistic and foreign language works as well as key documents from the founding of the United States such as the Federalist Papers. Since then, the Library has served as a repository for significant works in the English language, adding about 10,000 items per day.
What is the official function on the Library of Congress?
Since its conception, the Library of Congress has served as the legislative resource for members of Congress. This duty led to the establishment of the Legislative Research Service in the early 20th century and official authorization in 1946. The Legislative Research Service is now known at the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The function of the CRS is to utilize resources at the Library of Congress to generate confidential and non-partisan reports exclusively for members of Congress. Members of the public can receive CRS reports only by requesting them from their representatives or browsing reports released to be achieved. Otherwise, the Library has gained traditional roles as a record of significant works of the English language and a curator of American culture. Recently the Library has undergone changes coinciding with the Digital Age and began several initiatives to digitize its collection and collect electronic works of note.
Can I borrow books from the Library of Congress?
No. Only Congressmen and a small number of authorized personnel are allowed to remove books from the Library. With a Reader Identification Card, the general public may access the books within the reading rooms of the library. They may not remove the books from the premises. RIC cards can be obtained at the Madison building for all persons over 16 years of age with valid government identification.
Who is the head of the Library of Congress?
The Librarian of Congress is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. These individuals serve indefinite terms, reflecting the function of the Library of Congress as a non-partisan organization. The current librarian is James H. Billington, who is the thirteenth librarian of Congress, assuming office in 1987 under appointment by President Ronald Reagan.