The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world and the American national
library, was established in 1800 to meet the research needs of Congress. While that is still our
primary mission, we have expanded our services to all Americans and to researchers from around the world.
As you will see, during the past 200 years, the Library of Congress has evolved into something
"more than a library."
The Library was founded on April 24, 1800, with a congressional appropriation of $5,000.
Until 1897, when the Thomas Jefferson Building was completed, the Library was housed in the U.S. Capitol.
The final cost of the new building was $6,032,124.50, which was $150,000 less than appropriated, and that
amount was returned to the Treasury. After a decade-long renovation, it reopened to the
public in May 1997 and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in America.
Today, the Library comprises three main buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.,
and several other satellite service, storage, and collection offices. Its collections include
more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves.
The collections include more than 29 million cataloged books and other print materials,
2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps and 58 million manuscripts.
More than 1 million people visited the Library of Congress last year, making
it one of the top visitor attractions in the nation's capital.