Library of Congress


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Congress, Library of:

see Library of CongressLibrary of Congress,
national library of the United States, Washington, D.C., est. 1800. It occcupies three buildings on Capitol Hill: The Thomas Jefferson Building (1897), the John Adams Building (1938), and the James Madison Building (1981).
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.

Library of Congress,

national library of the United States, Washington, D.C., est. 1800. It occcupies three buildings on Capitol Hill: The Thomas Jefferson Building (1897), the John Adams Building (1938), and the James Madison Building (1981).

Thomas Jefferson while vice president was a prime mover in the creation of the library, and he supported it strongly during his presidency. In 1814, when much of the collection was destroyed by fire, Jefferson offered his own fine library to the Congress. This formed the basis of the collection until 1851, when fire destroyed some 35,000 volumes. The growth of the library progressed slowly thereafter until the passage of the Copyright Act of 1870, which required the deposit in the library of all copyright material. The acquisition in 1866 of the Smithsonian Institution's collection of 44,000 volumes and the purchase of the Peter Force collection of Americana (60,000 volumes; 1867) and the Joseph M. Toner American and Medical Library (24,000 volumes; 1892) made it one of the world's great libraries.

Originally primarily intended to serve the legislative branch of the government, it is now open to the public as a reference library and sends out many books through an interlibrary loan system. It has African and Middle Eastern, Asian, European, and Hispanic divisions; a law library; and excellent collections of manuscripts, periodicals, monographs and serials, incunabulaincunabula
, plural of incunabulum
[Late Lat.,=cradle (books); i.e., books of the cradle days of printing], books printed in the 15th cent. The known incunabula represent about 40,000 editions.
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, geography and maps, rare books, prints and photographs, motion pictures, music and recordings, sheet music, science and technology, visual materials, microforms, and computer files, representing materials in more than 450 languages.

The Library of Congress contains more than 138 million items, including about 21 million books, 5 million maps, and 61 million manuscripts. Its Online Catalog provides a database of some 12 million items from its collections. The library sells duplicate catalog entries to smaller libraries for the books it adds to its collections. It provides other vital services to libraries through its many bibliographic functions (among them maintaining the National Union Catalog of the holdings of 700 large libraries in the United States and running the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) and its Copyright Office. The library's Poetry and Literature Center (est. 1936) is the home of the U.S. poet laureatepoet laureate
, title conferred in Britain by the monarch on a poet whose duty it is to write commemorative odes and verse. It is an outgrowth of the medieval English custom of having versifiers and minstrels in the king's retinue, and of the later royal patronage of poets, such
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. The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, opened in Culpeper, Va., in 2007, is the home of the library's large film and recording collection. Mainly supported by congressional appropriations, the library also has income from gifts by foundations and individuals, administered by the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.

Bibliography

See studies by P. M. Angle (1958), G. Gurney (1966), M. McCloskey (1968), C. A. Goodrum (1974, rev. ed. 1982), and J. Conaway (2000).

Library of Congress

Serves as the national library of the United States; maintains collections of manuscripts, photographs, maps and related historical documents, preserves its own building, and produces publications and exhibits. It is the repository for HABS and HAER documentation.

Library of Congress

 

the national library of the USA, located in Washington, D.C.; one of the largest libraries in the world. It was founded in 1800 by the Congress of the USA. It serves primarily governmental organs, research institutions, scholars, private firms, and industrial companies.

According to 1968 data, the holdings of the Library of Congress amounted to 14.5 million books and brochures, 132,000 volumes of bound newspapers, more than 29 million items of manuscript materials, 3.3 million items of musical scores, more than 3 million maps, and many other materials, including motion-picture films, phonograph records, and microfilms. The annual increase in holdings of the Library of Congress ranges from 1 to 3 million items. In content the collections are almost universal (except for foreign medical and agricultural literature, which is collected by the national medical and agricultural libraries). Most fully represented is literature on law, history, philology, politics, natural sciences, and technology, as well as reference and bibliographical publications. The Library of Congress possesses more than 5,500 incunabula, the libraries of T. Jefferson and a number of other presidents of the USA, collections of works of Chinese literature (330,000 volumes) and Japanese literature (450,000 volumes), and collections of rare American editions (60,000 volumes). In 1907 the Library of Congress acquired the library of the Krasnoiarsk merchant and bibliophile G. V. Iudin, which consists of 41,000 books and journals, mostly on Russian history. (At the present time the Library of Congress has approximately 300,000 publications in the Russian language.)

The Library of Congress has 18 reading rooms with 1,460 seats for readers. Of the bibliographical publications of the Library of Congress, the most important are The National Union Catalog, which has been published monthly since 1958, and a union catalog of books in the libraries of the USA (610 volumes).

REFERENCE

Mearns, D. C. The Story Up to Now: The Library of Congress,1800–1946. Washington, 1947.

B. P. KANEVSKII

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