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Library of Congress

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  Jefferson Building, 10 First St SE; Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave SE; closest Metro Capitol South. MonFri 8.30am9.30pm, Sat 8.30am6pm. 202/707-8000. Admission free.

  In the Library of Congress, the largest in the world, over 95 million books and manuscripts, and countless thousands of microfilm rolls and computer disks, are arrayed on six hundred miles of shelves. Set up in 1800, the entire library was burned by the British in 1814; to replace the loss, Thomas Jefferson sold the country his six-thousand-volume personal collection. In 1870, when the Library of Congress was declared the national copyright library, the need was felt to build a suitable home; the result, the exuberantly eclectic Thomas Jefferson Building, opened in 1897 across from the Capitol, complete with a domed octagonal Reading Room, and hundreds of mosaics, murals and sculptures in its stunning Great Hall. Various old books including a Gutenberg Bible and a first folio of Shakespeare are on display in the adjacent James Madison Building. Free library tours the only way to see the recently renovated Jefferson Building currently depart MondayFriday at 11am and 2pm; ask at the information desk in the lobby of the Madison Building.
 

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