Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library—6,487 books—to the U.S. Congress in 1815 after the 1814 British raid on Washington, when British soldiers burned the Congressional Library in the U.S. Capitol. Nearly two-thirds of Jefferson's books were lost in another fire in the Capitol on Christmas Eve, 1851.
As part of the Library's Bicentennial, an effort was undertaken to reassemble all of the original editions of works that had been in Jefferson's library when it came to Washington. Now visitors can see Jefferson's library—both the volumes that belonged to Jefferson himself and those that have been accumulated in the last two years to fill in the gaps left by the 1851 blaze—in the Northwest Pavilion of the Jefferson Building.
This is the first time that Jefferson's library has ever been on public display, and this summer is the last chance to see it until it is reinstalled in a new location in a year or two. The exhibition is on view through Sept. 8, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.