The Library of Congress

Topics: Library of Congress, United States Congress, Thomas Jefferson Pages: 7 (2972 words) Published: October 8, 1999
HISTORYThe Library of congress was established by an act of congress on April 24, 1800. It was originally housed in the United States capitol. The collection, which stared out small at 740 volumes, slowly increased to over 3,000 volumes by 1814. That year, though, the British along with the capitol burned those books during the assault on Washington.To rapidly replace the collection, Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library to congress at no cost, describing the nature of his books like so: "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from the collections; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." This changed the library from a tiny legislative workplace to the largest national institute that it was about to become.Jefferson's more or less 6,500 volumes formed the heart of the library, and grew speedily in the nineteenth century. The new copyright law of 1870 demanded that two copies of every single book copyrighted had to be given to the library in order to receive protection. The flood of material that resulted forced the construction of a new building that opened in 1897.A new age for the library was guided by the opening of the Jefferson building and The Main Reading room. Special format collections were separated from the book collections and the readers could access them in different locations of the library. Some of these format collections were maps, prints, music, and manuscripts. The continued growth of the library's collection required two new buildings at the location of the library, Capitol Hill. These two new buildings were the Adams building, built in 1939, and the Madison building, built in 1980. Even though these new libraries were opened, the Main reading room stayed the central point of access for the libraries collections. Most people, weather they are doing specialized or general work will start in the main reading room. That reason is because the main reading room has the Computer Catalog Center, The main card catalog, and about 70,000 volumes in the reference section.Up-to-date information is maintained mostly by technology. The computer catalog gives a lot of information of the libraries collections, information of Congressional legislation, selective indexing of periodical articles, and PCs around the library provides access to a large variety of reference database in an electronic format.THE BUILDINGSThe law that created the library of congress said it was necessary for the books to be housed in a suitable environment in the Capitol. The only wing of the capitol finished in 1800 was the north wing, so the books that were received for the library were put in the office of the Clerk of the Senate. A temporary structure was built in 1801 for the use of the House of Representatives. The act of January 26, 1802 provided the move of the library into the room in the north wing, which had been occupied by the House. The library remained here until December of 1805.The Library of Congress occupied various spaces in the Capitol building between 1806 and August 24, 1814, when the British burned the Capitol and the Library. On January 30, 1815 Thomas Jefferson's library was purchased by Congress to "recommence" its library, and a law approved on March 3, 1815, authorized the preparation of "a proper apartment" for the books. Blodget's Hotel at 7th and E Streets was serving as the temporary Capitol, and a room on its third floor became the new location of the Library of Congress. Here Jefferson's books were received and organized by Librarian of Congress George Watterston. On February 18, 1817, Library Committee chairman Eligius Fromentin, a senator from Louisiana, introduced a resolution advocating a separate building for the Library, but it failed. In late 1818, however, funds were appropriated to move the Library back into the Capitol....
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