You don’t have to look any further than our nation’s capital to find the largest library in the world. The Library of Congress lays claim to that title, housing more than 158 million items altogether. Among its collection are more than 36 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages and 69 million manuscripts. The library also holds 3.5 million sound recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, and 6.7 million pieces of sheet music. Amazingly, the library adds approximately 12,000 items to its collection every working day.
But perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the Library of Congress started way back in 1800 with just 3,000 volumes. Housed in the Capitol, the library was destroyed by British troops during the War or 1812. In 1815 the library was begun anew with Congress’ purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, containing 6,487 books. The price? $23,950.
After the implementation of copyright law in 1870 required all copyright applicants to send the Library of Congress two copies of their work, space at the Capitol stated to grow tight. Congress authorized the construction of a separate building to house the library in 1873, but it wasn’t until 1897 that the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building first opened its doors. As the library continued to grow over the years, two addition buildings were added: the John Adams Building in 1038, and the James Madison Memorial Building in 1981.
Today, the Library of Congress is open to the public, generally during business hours on weekdays, though the hours vary slightly between the three buildings. If you go you can see, among countless other book novelties:
- The largest rare-book collection in North America, which includes the first book printed on the continent, the Bay Psalm Book.
- The Gutenberg Bible
- A 5 by 7 foot book featuring color images of Bhutan
- A book entitled “Old King Cole” which is a mere 1/25th by 1/25th of an inch in size.
For more information, check out the Library of Congress’ official website.
Advantage Book Binding has been in the book binding business since 1985, when we were founded on the principle “we do a quality book on time.” Since then we’ve seen plenty of changes both in and out of the industry. While some have sounded the death knell for books and other physical media, we believe that the fact that we continue to be an industry leader into the 21st century is a testament not only to our longevity as a company but to that of our craft. We think it’s important to keep books and physical media on the shelves, which is why we dedicate ourselves to providing you with the highest quality book binding and post press services available.