To a bibliophile, the Library of Congress has got to be pretty much the coolest thing ever. Eight hundred thirty-eight miles of shelves? Count me in.
Our national library is the research arm of Congress. Open to the public at no charge, it is believed to be the largest library in the world. While the Library of Congress doesn’t house every book published in the United States, it is home to more than thirty-six million books (including all of the Little Pickle Press titles currently available) and more than one hundred twenty-one million other media offerings.
According to the Library’s website, the Library of Congress has four main priorities. “First, to make knowledge and creativity available to the U.S. Congress on a continuing basis. Second, to acquire, organize, preserve, secure and sustain for the present and future use of Congress and the nation a comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge. The Library’s third priority is to make its collections maximally accessible to Congress, the government and the public through such means as its website. Its fourth priority is to add interpretive and educational value to the basic resources of the Library to highlight the importance of the Library to the nation’s well-being and future progress.”
In addition to providing information to Congress, a major function of the Library is copyright registration and research. The bulk of the collection is made up of copyright deposits; the process was centralized by Congress in 1870.
Although volumes are restricted to the premises, anyone age sixteen or older is welcome to use the reading rooms and collections. The Library welcomes 1.6 million visitors each year, and offers guided tours to visitors of all ages.
Say what you will about Congress (not here, please; this is a family show), they definitely have the most amazing library. And it’s ours, too! The next time that you’re in Washington, D.C., be sure to visit the Library of Congress.