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Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Building

The copyright law of 1870 required two copies of all copyrighted material to be sent to the Library of Congress. This resulted in a flood of books, pictures, maps, prints and photographs, which forced the Library to leave its initial home in the U.S. Capitol building for a new more spacious building in 1897.

This new building was one of the most rich and beautiful sites in the capital city. The Great Hall (pictured) boasts a large brass sun inlaid in its marble floor flanked by grand staircases. Torch-bearing bronze statues rest at the base of railings intricately carved with small children that represent various occupations, habits and pursuits of modern life. Paintings and mosaics depicting achievements, ideal life, the five senses and various facets of literature add bright color to the second-floor corridors.

In 1980, the building was renamed the Thomas Jefferson Building after the man whose personal library served as the foundation for the library. In 1997, the building was restored for its 100th anniversary.

The Library contains more than 100 million items on 532 miles (857 kilometers) of shelves and adds new material at a rate of more than 7,000 items per working day. Much of it comes from copyright deposits, but the collection is supplemented by exchanges with other libraries, gifts, purchases and material from local, state and federal agencies and international governments.

Related sites:

  • Library of Congress (tours, history, etc.)
  • THOMAS (to search the Library of Congress legislative archives)

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