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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Library of Libraries

This Day in History: April 24, 1800

From then...
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., April 19, 1893
Image Source: History of the Library
The first proposition for creating a congressional library is credited to James Madison in 1783. The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress on April 24, 1800. President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington.The first library provided a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress - and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…" 

The initial books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801. The first library catalog, dated April 1802, listed 964 volumes and nine maps. After the original library was lost to fire during the War of 1812, congress purchased Thomas Jefferson's personal library (6,487 volumes). In 1851, a second fire destroyed about two-thirds of the then existing 55,000 volumes. Within a few years, the majority of the books were replaced, except for those, of course, that were irreplaceable.

'Til now...
Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building 2010
Image Source: Library of Congress Photos

Today's Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. It is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress, but which is the de facto national library of the United States. The collection of more than 158 million items includes more than 36 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 69 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings. 

When photography became the hot new item in the mid-1800s, images were added vividly representing life and the world. A Prints & Photographs Division takes care of 14 million of the Library's pictures and features more than one million through online catalogs. Historical photo collections are shared through Flickr providing a wider accessibility to some of the most popular images.

Inside the Library...

Library of Congress Great Hall

Magnificent, isn't it?