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“Congressional Library, the entrance pavilion,” by L.C. Handy, ca. 1898

In 1897, when the Library of Congress relocated to its new home—now the Thomas Jefferson Building—its collections comprised 840,000 books as well as maps, music, graphic arts, and other works. Today the Library of Congress has multiple buildings, and its holdings number more than 135 million items.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Congressional Library, the entrance pavilion,” by L.C. Handy, ca. 1898

The Library's New Home

Established by Congress in 1800 and housed in the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress was intended as a resource for legislators. From its initial collection of 740 books and three maps, its holdings expanded in all areas of knowledge. In the 1870 Copyright Act, Congress stipulated that copies of protected works be deposited in the library, and the collections rapidly overflowed the space. In 1897, the library relocated to a monumental new building commissioned by Congress.