You probably already knew that most of America’s founders were well educated and they deemed books and libraries very important. You could also see that the new US Congress, which was first held in New York and then in Philadelphia, had good readers as their members. In 1800, President John Adams accepted the act of Congress and gave them a sum of $5,000 for the purchase of books for official use. This gave birth to the Library of Congress.
President Thomas Jefferson later revised the job of librarian at the Library of Congress into a presidential appointment. In this way, he strengthened the relationship between the Library of Congress and the American Presidency.
History of the Library of Congress
In 1851, a part of the library was destroyed in a fire. This destroyed two-thirds of its 55,000 books. The former US President, Thomas Jefferson came to the rescue by selling his own personal library to the recommence the new library. He had a strong belief in the power of acquiring knowledge and in the indirect relationship between knowledge and democracy. This defined the library’s principle of sharing its unique and rich collections with the world.
The Library of Congress was relocated to its current location on the east of US Capitol building in 1987. At present, the library has three giant structures:
- Thomas Jefferson Building
- John Adams Building
- James Madison Memorial Building
The Largest Library in the World
The Library of Congress holds over 118 million items on shelves lined over 500 miles, which makes it the largest library in the world. The library also has many artworks and different inscriptions on its walls, which symbolize art, science, music, religion, sports, and culture.
The rare book division in the Library of Congress has a collection of 1,470 Bibles, which date back to the beginning of printing; it also includes three copies of the original Gutenberg Bible on vellum of the 15th Century.
The Jefferson Building has shelves that go as far as 104 miles. It also has three huge doors that represent Tradition, Writing, and Printing. The door that represents Writing is at the right hand and it has figures of an Egyptian, a Christian, a Jew, and a Greek, which are the ones who influence the world by their brilliant works of literature.
Inside the Library of Congress
There is a dome on the Great Hall’s stairway has a quote inscribed in it saying “Knowledge is Power” – Sir Francis Bacon, De Hoeresibus. A painting titled “Corrupt legislation leads to anarchy” can be seen above the Reading Room.
The main Reading Room has an inscription saying “One God, one law, one element, and one far-off Divine event, to which the whole creation moves.” – Tennyson. Besides that, you can also see a passage from the Holy Bible above the figure of Religion, which says, “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Holy Bible, Micah 6:8, while above the figure of Science, you could see the writing, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” – Holy Bible, Psalms 19:1
While walking through the balustrade of the galleries, you can see the bronze statues that include the statues of Moses and that of St. Paul. You can also see various murals that have figures of countries and their contributions to the modern civilization in the dome on the main Reading Room, which includes the inscription written in Hebrew characters saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
A painting by Charles Sprague Pearce, which is titled “The Family”, can be seen at the other end of the North Mosaic corridor that represents all the paces in a family life including Labor, Study, Recreation, and Religion. The motto of each state and their seals can also be seen in The Member of Congress Reading Room ceiling panels:
- Florida: In God we trust
- Arizona: Ditat Deus [God enriches]
- Colorado: Nil sine numine [Nothing without God]
- Texas: Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain
- Virginia: Sic semper tyrannis [Thus ever to tyrants]
There is also a panel here with the words of creation “Let there be light.” (Genesis: 1:3)
You can see angels in corners that represent Metaphysics, Physics, Theology, and Psychology. You can also see another panel depicting the dragon of ignorance being crushed by the spirit of truth, upon its ascending to heaven.
There are also small angels holding the plumb, the level, the square, and the Bible, which shows their significance in the Universal Law. You can see the writing, “There is but one temple in the universe and that is the body of man.” – Novalis, Philosophy, and Physics, inscribed in the corner in front of the Great Hall.