The Library of Congress, the main research facility for the US Congress, was established on 24 April 1800.
A bill signed by President John Adams transferring the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital of Washington mentioned the creation of a reference library for use by Congress.
The library was created using a fund of $5,000.
The Thomas Jefferson collection
In August 1814 the original library was destroyed by invading British troops who set fire to the Capitol Building where it was housed.
Retired President Thomas Jefferson, who had amassed a vast collection of books over his lifetime, offered his personal collection as a replacement.
Congress paid $23,950 for the 6,487 books, which formed the foundation of today’s library.
The largest library in the world
Today the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 162 million items made up of 38 million books and other print materials as well as photographs, recordings, maps, sheet music and manuscripts.
About 12,000 new items are added to the collection daily. The collection includes material in 470 different languages.
Among its most precious items, the library includes the first known book printed in North America, “The Bay Psalm Book” (1640) and the 1507 world map by Martin Waldseemüller, known as ‘America’s Birth Certificate’, the first document on which the name America appears.