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It's More Than A Library

The Library of Congress, the world's largest repository of creativity, is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which this nation was founded. Housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill, the Library is committed to the dissemination of knowledge, both in Washington in our reading rooms and around the world through our site on the Web. Our services are provided to the U.S. Congress, the federal government, libraries throughout the nation and the world, and to scholars, researchers and lifelong learners.

Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. [The U.S. Capitol, home of the Library of Congress until 1897, is seen at sunrise through a window in the Thomas Jefferson Building.] Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction. [View of the Main Reading Room, as seen from the Visitors' Gallery, Thomas Jefferson Building]. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

Established in 1800, the Library has grown into an unparalleled resource. The collections, totaling more than 128 million items, include 27 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 50 million manuscripts, including the papers of 23 American presidents; the largest rare book collection in North America (700,000 volumes); and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

The Library collects materials in almost all fields of knowledge in multimedia formats. Thomas Jefferson, who sold his personal library to the Library of Congress in 1815 following Britain's burning of the Capitol (where the Library was located), believed that "there is no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." His statement has remained the guiding principle of the Library's collecting policy.

Given the extraordinary depth and breadth of its collections, the Library of Congress has evolved into more than a library and research facility for Congress. It is a performing arts center, a film and photo archives, a museum and art gallery, a provider of reading materials for the blind and physically handicapped, a conservator of our national heritage and much more.

 

A. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. [The U.S. Capitol, home of the Library of Congress until 1897, is seen at sunrise through a window in the Thomas Jefferson Building.] Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. [View of the Main Reading Room, as seen from the Visitors' Gallery, Thomas Jefferson Building]. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.


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