If you’re like me, you consult what the Library of Congress is up to in many ways. Is this a DLC record? What LCSH can be added to a record? Besides the many services that we use from the Library of Congress, it is also a library that is great to visit. I was able to go once several years ago. Much to my delight, our librarian tour guide took us to the back rooms and closed stacks! My biggest surprise: overflow. There was simply not enough room for all the books. There were tiny piles on the floor of books that couldn’t be shelved. Despite that very real moment and realization that the Library of Congress shares many of the problems that all the rest of us face, it is still a magical place to visit.
C-SPAN recently posted their documentary on the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with nearly 150 million items. It was started in 1800. Its first books were bought from England with a $5,000 appropriation from Congress. Housed in the U.S. Capitol, the library was destroyed in 1814 when British soldiers burned the building. Hearing of the fire, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell Congress his book collection. After much debate, Congress agreed to buy the collection for just under $24,000. In 1851, another fire destroyed 2/3 of the library’s holdings. In 1870, Congress passed copyright legislation that required two copies of every book published be sent to the Library of Congress. Subsequently, the holdings of the library grew extensively. Congress debated whether to give the library its own building. That didn’t happen until much later. The library moved out of the Capitol building and into the Jefferson building in 1897. Today, the Library of Congress spans over a total of 8 buildings.
Enjoy the show!