The Library of Congress which is located right next to the U.S. Capitol Building is a beautiful sight. I have passed the Library of Congress tons of times without realizing you could go inside. The interior offers some stunning ceilings and its iconic reading room is well worth visiting.
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The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States containing more than 38 million books. With parts of the collection spanning over 430 languages.
In this guide I’ll be going over everything you need to know before visiting the Library of Congress.
Table of contents
Library of Congress History
The Library of Congress was founded in 1800. It is the largest library in the world and is used by the U.S. Congress to do research. It was started to give Congress a reliable source of information and knowledge to help them with their legislative work. When it first opened, the library was in the United States Capitol, and it only had 740 books and three maps.
During the War of 1812, British troops came to Washington DC in 1814 and set fire to the Capitol. This destroyed the original collection of the Library of Congress. As a replacement, former President Thomas Jefferson offered his own library, which was known for having a large number and variety of books. This purchase helped set the stage for the library’s future growth and gave it a broader view of the world.
The Library of Congress has grown a lot in size and scope over the years. It moved to the Thomas Jefferson Building, which is a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture, in 1897. This beautiful building is a work of art in and of itself. It has intricate sculptures, murals, and mosaics all over it.
There are now more than 170 million items in the library’s collection, such as books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and audio-visual materials. It is also home to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is very important for keeping America’s cultural history alive.
Library of Congress Photos
Here are pictures of the interior and exterior of the Library of Congress. If you’re a photographer I recommend brining a wide angle lens to capture the grand nature of the library.
Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress
Twice a year the Library of Congress opens the main reading room up to the public to explore. This gives you the ability to explore the main reading room and even enter record keeping rooms. The reading room is typically open to the public on Memorial Day and Presidents’ Day.
Planning a Visit to the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is free and open to the public. You can view the hours and current status of the Library of Congress on their website. Currently you’ll need timed tickets to enter the Library.
The Library of Congress is located next to the US Capitol on First St NE. If you plan to take the Metro to the Library of Congress there are a few options. The three closest stops are Capitol South (0.1 mile), Union Station (0.5 mile), and Eastern Market (0.7 mile).
You can also get to the Library of Congress via a Capital BikeShare bike or rent an electric scooter.Library of Congress on Google Maps
Library of Congress F.A.Q.
Here are frequently asked questions about the Library of congress in Washington DC.
What is the Library of Congress?
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, housing millions of books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other important historical documents.
Where is the Library of Congress located?
The Library of Congress is located in Washington, DC, specifically on Capitol Hill near the United States Capitol Building.
What are the hours of operation for the Library of Congress?
The Library of Congress is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00am to 5:00pm (last entry is at 4:30pm), with the exception of federal holidays.
Is there an admission fee to visit the Library of Congress?
No, admission to the Library of Congress is free and open to the public. Currently a free timed ticket is required to enter.
Do I need to make a reservation to visit the Library of Congress?
What can I do at the Library of Congress?
Visitors to the Library of Congress can take self-guided tours of the historic Thomas Jefferson Building, view exhibitions and displays of rare items, attend lectures and concerts, and conduct research in the reading rooms.
Can I check out books from the Library of Congress?
No, the Library of Congress is a reference library and materials cannot be checked out. Visitors can request items to be brought to the reading room for use during their visit.
Is there parking available at the Library of Congress?
No, there is no public parking available at the Library of Congress. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation or public street parking in Capitol Hill.
Is the Library of Congress accessible for visitors with disabilities?
Yes, the Library of Congress is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. The Thomas Jefferson Building has ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms, and assistive listening devices are available for use during lectures and concerts.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to visiting the Library of Congress in Washington DC. If you’re at the Library of Congress I also recommend stopping by the US Capitol Building across the street also.
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