OTD Library Of Congress

April 2, 2021

April 24, 1800

Founded with $5,000 and not one book…the Library of Congress celebrates 220 years as the world largest library.


  • 1800: As part of moving the U.S. gov’t from PA to the newly formed capital in D.C., Pres. Adams approved $5k for a congressional library. First books took a year to arrive from England.
  • The Library survived two devastating fires (one when the British burned the Capitol in 1814, another accidental in 1851) – much of its early contents burned.
  • “The Library” now occupies 3 buildings.


  • 170 million items in 470 languages, including books, maps, pamphlets, manuscripts, photos, audio & video recordings, sheet music, drawings, comic books, and presidential papers.
  • An est. 50,000 items added each week.
  • If you put all the bookshelves in the Library of Congress end to end, they would stretch from Washington D.C. to Cape Canaveral, Florida.


Can’t check them out but you can visit!

  • Drafts of American’s founding documents e.g. The Constitution.
  • Largest rare-book collection in all of North America.
  • The Gutenberg Bible (one of only 3 surviving copies printed on calf-skin. The 15th century book is the first printed with moveable metal type in Western Europe).

Fun Fact: A rule in 1812 exempted Congressional members from late fees! You don’t have to visit in person to benefit from the the Library of Congress. We use the LOC website every week, and they might be useful to you at home: Check out these fun (and free) learning resources for you and your family.


Library Of Congress Documentaries: https://www.youtube.com/user/LibraryOfCongress/videos

Children’s Literature Resources: https://www.loc.gov/rr/child/

Family Engagement Resources: https://www.loc.gov/families/

Education Resources: https://www.loc.gov/education/

Teacher Resources: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/

by Jenna Lee,