The Library of Congress is the largest and most important library in the world. Its collection totals over 128 million books, manuscripts, and other items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. Considered to be the founder of the Library, Thomas Jefferson believed that good self-government depended upon the free pursuit of truth by informed citizens. He saw the importance of a congressional library because he felt there was “no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” The Library occupies three massive structures near the Capitol: the Jefferson Building, which serves as the American national library and contains the Main Reading Room; the Adams Building, which holds the Federal Research Division and several reading rooms, and the Madison Building, which houses the Law Library and the Copyright Office.

Interesting Facts:

  • You cannot check books out of the Library…it is for on-site research only.
  • Two of the Library’s rarest treasures are the Gutenberg Bible (1455) and the Giant Bible of Mainz (1452-53).
  • Also carefully preserved at the Library are a draft of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s first drafts of his Gettysburg Address, and the papers of 23 presidents from Washington to Coolidge.


Library of Congress