This Day in History - April 24

On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of "such books as may be necessary for the use of congress."

The books, purchased for what we know today as the Library of Congress, were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. The collection of 740 volumes and three maps was stored in the U.S. Capitol, which served as the Library's first home. On January 26, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson approved the first legislation that specified the role and functions of the library. In an interesting coincidence, Jefferson later sold the bulk of his book collection to Congress for $23,950 after the British set the Capitol ablaze in 1814.

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It aims to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the public, as well as to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge for future generations. As of 2017, the vast holdings of the Library --which include everything from books and photographs to pieces of music registered for copyright -- number more than 164 million items.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Library on my trip to Washington, D.C. with my wife in 2014. The architecture is spellbinding -- you feel as though you've stepped into a resplendent palace. I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that it's the most beautiful library in the whole world, and I certainly hope to return someday in the near future.

Have you ever visited the Library of Congress?

No comments: