Celebrating Our Culture

Library of Congress Celebrates 200 Years of Collecting Our National Treasures
By Joyce Dixon
2000, All Rights Reserved

On April 24, 1800 the Library of Congress opened its doors with fewer than a thousand books.  Today that collection has grown to more than 115 million items in all formats to become the world's largest library.

President John Adams approved legislation for the Library of Congress to provide books that the legislature would need as they moved to the new capital city of Washington.  The first books arrived from London in 1801 and were housed in the U.S. Capitol, the Library's first home.  The collection consisted of 740 volumes and three maps.

Thomas Jefferson is responsible for the transformation of the Library to the scope of collections that we see today.  His ideals, intellectual curiosity, and pragmatism set the guidelines for the Library of Congress to follow.

The Bicentennial Theme is "Libraries - Creativity - Liberty."  The logo for the event features the interior dome of the Library's Main Reading Rome.  In the center of the dome is the image of a woman representing "Human Understanding."  In the painting, "Human Understanding" is lifting her veil looking upward toward the future.  The Bicentennial goal is "to inspire creativity in the century ahead by stimulating greater use of the Library of Congress and libraries everywhere."  This celebration will be nationwide with events through the Local Legacies Project, Favorite Poem Project, and on the Internet through The National Digital Library Program.

The National Birthday Party at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on April 24th, includes: the opening of the Thomas Jefferson exhibition; the launching of "America's Library," a new Web site for families; and ceremonies for commemorative coins and stamp issuance.


Library of Congress Exhibitions

American Treasures of the Library of Congress
 
The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin
 
The Gerry Mulligan Collection
 
By Securing to Authors: Copyright, Commerce, and Creativity in America
 
Arthur Szyk: Artist for Freedom [ends May 6]
 
Thomas Jefferson [April 24, 2000 to October 31, 2000]
 
The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale [ April 21, 2000 to September 23, 2000]
 
Living and Reliving the Sagas: Icelandic Life and Legend [May 24, 2000 to July 15, 2000]
 
The Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment [Opens May 9, 2000]
 
World Treasures of the Library of Congress [Opens January 2001]

Bicentennial Contact Information.
E-mail Address: bicenntennial@loc.gov 
Web Address: http://www.loc.gov/bicentennial/ 
 
Other Sites of Interest.
US Copyright Office:  http://www.loc.gov/copyright/ 
American Memory: http://memory.loc.gov/ 

Library of Congress Bicentennial logo used with permission.

 

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