Founded in 1800, it is made up of three buildings-the original Thomas Jefferson Building, the John Adams Building, and the James Madison Memorial Building. The Library was built upon the collection of President Thomas Jefferson, which visitors can see while touring his namesake building. The Library of Congress is the nation's library, and used for research. It has the most comprehensive collection of books, maps, manuscripts, music, photos, films, video recordings, prints, and drawings in the world.
Open Monday through Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. The Adams and Madison buildings are closed on federal holidays.
Free, and open for research to those 16 and older.
Electronic Literary Showcase
Kids' events like The Numbers Lady
Witter Bynner Fellows Poetry Reading
Tours, Activities, Events, and Exhibits
There are guided tours and self-guided tours available. A 1-hour tour of the Jefferson Building addresses its architecture and history, and is free. There’s also a tour about President Jefferson and another about the Library’s Music Division. Permanent exhibits and changing exhibits are also part of the Library’s appeal, and several included Gallery Talks. Special events open to the public about a variety of topics include author chats, history, and music.
Hours for Research
Research hours at the Library Congress vary. There are evening hours for researchers from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Can public visitors check out books?
Books cannot be checked out from the Library, but they can be used for research on the premises. You must have a user card, which has a photo ID on it. You can get user cards at the Reader Registration Stations. It’s in the Madison Building, Room LM140. All you need is a driver’s license or passport to self-register.
What books or documents should I see when I visit?
Be sure to visit the exhibit “The Library of Congress Experience,” which has on display several treasured items from the collection. These include George Washington’s copy of the Constitution and drafts of the Declaration of Independence. The exhibit is in the Jefferson Building. Another book to see is the Gutenberg Bible, which is on display in the Great Hall on the first floor.