John Adams signs an Act of Congress to move the govt from Philadelphia to Washington DC. Part of the bill provided for $5000 to establish a library for Congress, "for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress ..., “. Thomas Jefferson followed this in 1802 by signing the first law creating the post of Librarian of Congress.
The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. and is the largest library in the world with over 745 miles of shelves to hold close to 145 million items. It was first housed in the Capital building until the British burned the Capitol in the War of 1812.
|Photo courtesy of www.teachingamericanhistory.org|
Jefferson sold his personal collection of over 6000 books to rebuild the library. This collection was considered unique in that it was a working scholar’s collection and not just a “gentleman’s collection” used strictly for display.
While the library was originally established as a research arm for Congress, it was Jefferson’s belief that “all subjects are important to the library of the American legislature,” that formed the rationale behind the collection policies of the library to this day.