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Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., cyanotype by Levin C. Handy, April 19, 1893

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., cyanotype by Levin C. Handy, April 19, 1893

Creating a National Library

During the nineteenth century, the Library of Congress outgrew its quarters within the United States Capitol as its collections and mission expanded. Between 1886 and 1896, Congress authorized construction of a magnificent new building for the library, and the Joint Committee on the Library reexamined the institution’s administrative goals. Consequently, Congress increased library appropriations and enhanced the institution’s status and autonomy, paving the way for it to become a modern national library.