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Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress is the national library of the United States. Although its official primary role is to serve Congress (and, by extension, the other branches of the federal government), it also serves scholars as the premier research library in the country. LC plays a lead role in the library community through its cataloging program, and its reference and interlibrary loan services (ILL) make it the "library of last resort."


Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress was originally housed in part of the Capitol building. After British forces burned the Capitol during the War of 1812, former President Thomas Jefferson sold his extensive personal library (then one of the largest collections in the country) to the government to form the nucleus of a new Library of Congress.

In 1897, the Library got its own building (now known as the Jefferson Building) across the street from the Capitol. The Adams and Madison buildings would follow.


At the turn of the 20th century, the Library standardized its cataloging practices. During this time, LC staff developed the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Classification System. Both were developed for the Library of Congress' use, but LCSH became the dominant controlled vocabulary in American libraries, and the classification system is widely used in academic libraries.

Librarians of Congress[edit]

  • John J. Beckley (1802–1807)
  • Patrick Magruder (1807–1815)
  • George Watterston (1815–1829)
  • John Silva Meehan (1829–1861)
  • John Gould Stephenson (1861–1864)
  • Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1864–1897)
  • John Russell Young]] (1897–1899)
  • Herbert Putnam (1899–1939)
  • Archibald MacLeish (1939–1944)
  • Luther H. Evans (1945–1953)
  • Lawrence Quincy Mumford (1954–1974)
  • Daniel J. Boorstin (1975–1987)
  • James H. Billington (1987–2015)
    • David S. Mao (2015–2016), Acting
  • Carla Hayden (2016–)

External Links[edit]

  • Library of Congress Official Web site

Further Reading[edit]

  • Goodrum, Charles A. and Helen W. Dalrymple. The Library of Congress. Westview Press, 1982. ISBN: 0865313032.
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See also the Wikipedia article on:
Library of Congress