Library of Congress(.gov): The Home of World's Largest Library
The Library of Congress is one of the oldest national libraries in the world and the largest library in the United States. The Library of Congress (LOC) was established on April 24, 1800, by an act of the United States Congress and is located in Washington, D.C. The main mission of the Library of Congress is to support the legislative branch of the United States government by providing research materials, information services, and preservation of significant American cultural and historical artifacts.
As the largest national library in the world, the Library of Congress holds over 170 million items in various formats including books, manuscripts, maps, recordings, photographs, and pictorial materials. The collection of the library cuts across all genres and subjects including music, law, science, history, culture, and the arts. It is estimated that the library acquires around 15,000 new items every working day, making it one of the largest collections of books and other media in the world.
The Library of Congress website can be accessed at www.loc.gov and provides the public with access to a vast collection of digital resources and online exhibits. The website offers access to digitized books, newspapers, photos, and other materials. In addition, the library provides interactive online exhibits, tools, and resources for educators, and research guides for students, scholars, and genealogists.
One of the most notable aspects of the Library of Congress is its collections of rare books and primary sources. The library boasts one of the largest collections of rare manuscripts and books in the world, which includes the Gutenberg Bible, one of only four copies in the United States. The library also houses one of the most extensive map collections in the world, including the earliest maps of America, as well as an array of historical photographs, sound recordings, and visual materials dating back to the 1800s.
The Library of Congress is also home to the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC), which is located in Culpeper, Virginia. The NAVCC is a state-of-the-art preservation center with the capacity to store and preserve over 110,000 items of audio, video, and film material. The center has played a vital role in preserving American film history, including some of the earliest silent films ever made.
Besides maintaining its vast collection, the Library of Congress is also responsible for providing research and analysis support to the United States Congress and other governmental agencies. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is an agency within the Library of Congress that conducts research and analysis for members of Congress. The CRS provides a range of services and publications, including research briefs, legislative analysis, and background papers.
Another remarkable aspect of the Library of Congress is its Thomas legislative information system. The Thomas system provides information on current and previous sessions of Congress, including legislative summaries, voting records of legislators, and committee proceedings. Users can access the Thomas system by visiting the Library of Congress website, www.loc.gov.
In conclusion, the Library of Congress is an essential institution that has played a crucial role in preserving America's cultural and historical heritage. With over 170 million items in its collection, the library provides an invaluable resource for researchers, scholars, and the general public. Through its online resources and extensive collection, the Library of Congress has become a vital institution in preserving and sharing America’s rich history and cultural heritage.