The Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800. It was originally founded to provide a legislative library for members of Congress. In just over a decade, the collection had grown to over 3000 books. There was a major setback during the War of 1812 when the invading British burned the Capitol building and the Library along with it.
Thomas Jefferson came to the rescue by selling his personal library to replace what was lost — 6847 books accumulated over 50 years. The Library really began to grow after the Copyright Law of 1870 was passed, which required all copyright applicants to submit two copies of their work to the Library. Today its collection includes more than 158 million items and the largest rare-book collection in North America.
The Library’s mission statement is “to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.” Its website is http://www.loc.gov/ .