Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, and it serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with more than 162 million items. The collections include books, sound recordings, motion pictures, photographs, maps, and manuscripts. The Library of Congress (“LOC”) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, which houses the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.
The Library of Congress claims to be the largest library in the world. Its “collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages. Two-thirds of the books it acquires each year are in languages other than English.” The Library of Congress moved to Washington in 1800, after sitting for eleven years in the temporary national capitals of New York (New York City) and Philadelphia. John J. Beckley, who became the first Librarian of Congress, was paid two dollars per day and was required to also serve as the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The small Congressional Library was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century until the early 1890s. Most of the original collection had been destroyed by the British in 1814, during the War of 1812. To restore its collection in 1815, the library bought from former president Thomas Jefferson his entire personal collection of 6,487 books.