Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Library of Congress, Washington D.C. (must see)

The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 during President John Adams' administration with the primary purpose of providing Congress with the necessary books for their legislative duties. Thomas Jefferson played a significant role in emphasizing the importance of the library, and in 1802, he signed a law that outlined its structure and permitted the President and Vice-President to borrow books from it. Unfortunately, during the War of 1812, the Library of Congress was destroyed when British troops burned down the Capitol in 1814.

In response to this loss, President Jefferson generously offered his personal collection of 6,487 books to replace those lost in the fire. Congress accepted his offer in 1815, compensating him approximately $24,000 for his library. Regrettably, another fire occurred in 1851, destroying roughly 4,000 books from President Jefferson's donation along with an additional 31,000 volumes. Following some debates about its management, the Smithsonian Institution transferred approximately 40,000 volumes to the Library in 1866.

Subsequently, the Library of Congress underwent substantial expansion, amassing 840,000 volumes by 1897. During this period, there was a growing sentiment that the Library should serve as a national resource. Programs were initiated to make the collection accessible to individuals with physical disabilities. In addition to books, the Library houses an extensive collection of manuscripts, sheet music, maps, sound recordings, and films, making it an extraordinary repository of knowledge.

Today, the Library of Congress boasts the world's largest collection of books and manuscripts. While it is a public resource, only members of Congress, high-ranking officials, and Supreme Court Justices have the privilege to check out books. Nevertheless, anyone is welcome to utilize the books stored in three separate buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. These libraries are interconnected by tunnels, streamlining the security process for visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
A world treasure that has one of the most beautiful building interiors in Washington, D.C. and worldwide!
There are permanent exhibits (first printed book – Gutenberg Bible from 1455) as well as temporary ones at any times.

Tip:
Definitely go online beforehand and register for your reader card; then, when you get there, just show your ID and the world of learning is open to you.
Tours are free and about an hour long. While you can see all the areas on the tour on your own, they are explained nicely by the tour guide.
There is a tunnel that connects the LoC and the US Capitol so you can view both without going outside.
If coming from the Capitol Building, you don't have to pass through the security check again (but if planning on visiting the Capitol Building from here, you will need to go through the security check, even if you came from this building before).

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Washington D.C.. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Library of Congress on Map

Sight Name: Library of Congress
Sight Location: Washington D.C., USA (See walking tours in Washington D.C.)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Washington D.C., USA

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

Creating your own self-guided walk in Washington D.C. is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Georgetown University Walking Tour

Georgetown University Walking Tour

Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the U.S., was founded in 1789 by John Carroll. Renowned for its academic excellence, the campus is anchored by Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark designed by the architects of the Library of Congress. Jesuit settlers from England, who founded the Province of Maryland in 1634, laid the groundwork for Georgetown University...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Federal Buildings Walking Tour

Federal Buildings Walking Tour

The capital of the United States is home to several notable federal buildings that hold significant historical, architectural, and governmental value.

Among the stately “emblems of authority” in Washington D.C. perhaps the most prominent is the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States – The White House. This resplendent mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
DC Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour

DC Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years," goes the famous quote by Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed, those remembered in Washington, D.C. – the renowned statesmen, politicians, fallen soldiers, and other distinguished persons – had their years filled with life to the brim. What they left behind is a great legacy manifested in historic...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Georgetown Walking Tour

Georgetown Walking Tour

Overlooking the Potomac River, in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., lies a historic neighborhood called Georgetown. Those poetically inclined tend to compare Georgetown to "a tapestry of cobblestone dreams and timeless grace." Indeed, this part of Washington, D.C., replete with charming tree-lined, cobblestone streets, cultural landmarks, and a vibrant atmosphere, is a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Arlington National Cemetery Tour

Arlington National Cemetery Tour

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example," a distinguished politician of the 19th century said once.

The historic military necropolis – the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia – is the final resting place for many of America's heroes, whose willingness to sacrifice for their country has earned them the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Washington D.C. Introduction Walking Tour

Washington D.C. Introduction Walking Tour

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia or simply The District, is the capital of the United States and, in many senses, America’s front yard. After the American Revolution, the need for the newly independent nation's federal government to have authority over a capital city and not rely on any state for its maintenance and safety, came in the wake of the Pennsylvania Mutiny of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 Km or 3.2 Miles

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