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“Great Hall, Library of Congress,” by Carol Highsmith, 2007

In 1984 Congress authorized rehabilitation and modernization of the 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building. The restoration, completed in 1997, revitalized the allegorical art and decorations of the Great Hall.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Great Hall, Library of Congress,” by Carol Highsmith, 2007

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.