May 17, 2022

Happy 216th Birthday to the Library of Congress

Happy 216 LC!

From the LC Web Site:

The Joint Committee on the Library (the oldest continuing Joint Committee of the U.S. Congress) was created on April 24, 1800, when President John Adams signed the bill establishing the federal government in Washington and creating the Library of Congress. The act appropriated $5,000 for “the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress” after it moved to the new capital city of Washington. The Library’s appropriation for fiscal year 1811 officially made the Joint Committee on the Library a standing committee. From the 95th Congress forward, the Joint Committee on the Library has been composed of the chairman (or designee) and four members each from the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Committee on House Administration. The chairmanship and vice chairmanship alternate between the House and Senate every Congress.

Read “History of the Library”

See Also: The Library of Congress Releases FY2015 Collection Statistics, Physical Items Now Total 162 Million (February 1, 2016)

A History of the Library of Congress


Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., April 19, 1893 (via LOC Prints and Photographs Online Catalog) Source URL:

A History of the Library of Congress

SPEAKER: John Y. Cole
EVENT DATE: 2010/09/07
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 70 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)

DESCRIPTION: John Cole gives a history of the Library of Congress for the annual visitor docent training class.

Speaker Biography: John Y. Cole is founding director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. He has published widely about books and libraries in society as well as about the history of the Library of Congress.

Additional LC History Resources (via Today in History):

  • Ainsworth Rand Spofford, Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897, was responsible for transforming the Library into an institution of national significance in the Jeffersonian spirit. Appointed by Abraham Lincoln, Spofford centralized the registration and deposit of copyright activities through the Copyright Law of 1870. This law had a direct effect on vastly increasing the Library’s collections as it extended copyright protection to “…a painting, drawing, statue, statuary, model or design for a work of the fine arts, a photograph of the same…” and stipulated that two copies of every published work in the U.S.—books, pamphlets, maps, prints, photographs, and pieces of music registered for copyright—be deposited at the Library. He also linked the legislative and national functions of the Library—first in practice, next by law—through his reorganization of the institution, which was approved by Congress in 1897.
  • See also the online reconstruction of Jefferson’s library in the exhibit Thomas Jefferson’s Library. Jefferson reinterpreted British philosopher Francis Bacon’s organizational categories of  “Memory,” “Reason,” and “Imagination” as “History,” “Philosophy,” and “Fine Arts.”
  • Read the Library of Congress Information Bulletin article, “Ainsworth’s Ashes” to learn more about the man responsible for elevating the Library to national prominence.
  • Visit the collection Freedom’s Fortress: The Library of Congress, 1939-1953. The online presentation includes correspondence, photographs, documents, and other materials which detail the role of the Library of Congress vis-à-vis the nation’s information needs at this significant time in history—establishing the Library as one of America’s foremost citadels of intellectual freedom. Learn more about the Library of Congress Archives—the primary collection, which contains the historically valuable records of the Library of Congress and depict the development of the Library’s buildings, collections, and staff. The Archives include the correspondence of the Librarians of Congress from 1846 until 1940 and fourteen volumes of General Orders—the official statements of Library policy and procedures as well as annual reports of various divisions and departments.
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.