The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. The legislation described a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress -- and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein...."
In 1957, Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford initiated studies for a third Library building. Congress appropriated planning funds for that structure, today's James Madison Memorial Building, in 1960, and construction was approved by an act of Congress on October 19, 1965 that authorized an appropriation of $75 million. Excavation and foundation work began in June 1971, and work on the superstructure was completed in 1976. The cornerstone, inscribed with the date 1974, was laid on March 8, 1974. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 24, 1980, and the building actually opened on May 28, 1980.
In 1928, at the urging of Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, Congress authorized the purchase of land directly east of the Library's Main Building for the construction of an Annex Building. The bill was sponsored by Robert Luce, chairman of the House Committee on the Library. On June 13, 1930, $6,500,00 was appropriated for the building's construction, for a tunnel connecting it to the Main Building, and for changes in the east front of the Main Building, including the construction of a Rare Book Room. An additional appropriation approved on June 6, 1935, brought the total authorization to $8,226,457.