While the Library of Congress relies upon congressional appropriations to carry out its missions, much of its work also depends on the generosity of the private sector: individuals, corporations and foundations. It is now much easier to support the de facto national library through financial donations with the launch of the Library’s new "e-Giving" Web site.
The site provides options for donations in several areas including major priorities, key initiatives and “friends groups.” Donors can also specify another fund of the Library for their contribution.
Donations are made via the Department of the Treasury’s secure Pay.gov site, the federal government’s official portal for making electronic payments to government agencies. Major credit cards are accepted; the minimum donation level is $25.
The system allows patrons to make contributions to honor or memorialize friends, family members or loved ones. Upon making a donation, donors receive an instant acknowledgement of the gift and an email confirmation (if the donor provides a valid email address). Donors may also indicate if their employers offer matching gifts.
The e-Giving site is made possible in part by seed money from the Leaders Circle, a former advisory group of the Library of Congress that will be recognized as Founding Members of this initiative.
In addition to financial support, the Library also welcomes patron volunteers. Each year the Library of Congress receives more than 1 million visitors eager to view the magnificent Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., and to learn about the treasures it contains. In April 2008, the Library inaugurated its new Library of Congress Experience featuring three new exhibitions and interactive displays for visitors. In December 2008, the tunnel from the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center to the Library will open. These developments are expected to bring even more visitors to the Library. To address this growth, the Library's Visitor Services Office often seeks volunteer docents who will gain the skills necessary to lead tours of the Library's historic Thomas Jefferson building.
The training curriculum covers all aspects of the Library and is specially designed to prepare docents to give interesting and informative tours of the Thomas Jefferson Building and include all levels of information about the Library. The docent training is presented by Library staff, as well as experts from outside the Library. The curriculum focuses on the past, present and future of the Library; curatorial divisions; programs; collections care and use; organization and infrastructure; and the art and architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building.