Library of Congress was established 219 years ago!

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is considered to be unofficially the national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and is housed in three buildings on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C.: the Thomas Jefferson building, the John Addams building, and the James Madison Memorial building.  The library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, who is appointed by the President of the United States, for a ten year term. The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world, and is open to the public, although only high-ranking government officials and library employees are allowed to check out materials. 

James Madison is credited with the first idea of creating a congressional library after making such a proposition in 1783. However, it wasn't until April 24,1800, that the Library of Congress was established by President John Adams. In the legislation he signed, $5,000 was appropriated for the purchase of books that would be necessary for Congress to use. Books were ordered from London and the collection consisted of 740 books and 3 maps, which were housed in the new United States Capitol. President Thomas Jefferson then signed a bill on January 26, 1802, which established the structure of the Library of Congress and created a Joint Committee on the Library, which regulates and oversees the library. 

Then in August 1814 during the War of 1812, the British invaded and burned Washington, destroying the Library of Congress and it's then collection of 3,000 books. Within a month of its destruction, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his personal library as replacement for the Library of Congress collection. Congress accepted his offer in January 1815, and purchased his collection of 6,487 books for $23,950. This vast collection included a wide variety of books in several languages and subjects that included: philosophy, history, law, religion, architecture, travel, natural sciences, and mathematics, to name a few. Jefferson has spent fifty years collecting books on these wide ranging subjects and believed that all subjects had a place in the Library of Congress. In 1851, a fire destroyed two thirds of the Jefferson collection, with only 2,000 books remaining. By 2008, the Librarians of Congress had found replacements for all but 300 of the works that were in Jefferson's original collection. The Jefferson collection is on permanent display in the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress Book list

List created by STPLReferenceCauseway

This is a list of books celebrating the Library of Congress.











View Full List

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of St. Tammany Parish Library