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Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Library of Congress!

Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
On April 24, 1800 the Library of Congress was established. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. President John Adams approved legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress," thus establishing the Library of Congress.

The first books were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. They were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library's first home.The first library catalog listed listed 964 volumes and nine maps.

Twelve years later, the Library of Congress housed 3000 volumes.

Unfortunately, the British army invaded the city of Washington that year and burned the Capitol, including the Library of Congress.

President Thomas Jefferson responded by selling his personal library, the largest and finest in the country, to Congress to "recommence" the library. The purchase of Jefferson's 6,487 volumes was approved in the next year, and a professional librarian, George Watterston, was hired to replace the House clerks in the administration of the library.
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building

In 1851, a second major fire at the library destroyed about two-thirds of its 55,000 volumes, including two-thirds of the Thomas Jefferson library (pictured). Congress responded quickly and generously to the disaster, and within a few years a majority of the lost books were replaced.

Read more . . .

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