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S. Con. Res. 26, Concurrent Resolution to form a joint special committee to inquire into the condition of the Congressional Library . . . , March 23, 1896

In 1896 Congress passed a resolution authorizing the Joint Committee on the Library to conduct a special inquiry into the “condition” of the Library of Congress. The Joint Committee on the Library, created in 1800, is the oldest continuing joint committee in Congress. The 1896 hearings helped Congress define an expanded mission for the library in the twentieth century.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. Con. Res. 26, Concurrent Resolution to form a joint special committee to inquire into the condition of the Congressional Library . . . , March 23, 1896

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.