Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday
April 24, 2003 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday. Today, the Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday. On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of "such books as may be necessary for the use of congress."
The books, the first purchased for the Library of Congress, were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. The collection of 740 volumes and three maps was stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library's first home. President Thomas Jefferson approved the first legislation defining the role and functions of the new institution on January 26, 1802.
Check out, Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress and a Concordance of Images for more.
posted by Blake (12 comments total)
posted by taumeson at 6:21 AM on April 24, 2003

That's what I thought too, but the site says 202...I can;t figure it out either. Maybe it's last year's page?
posted by Blake at 6:43 AM on April 24, 2003

The first books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library's first home. The collection consisted of 740 volumes and three maps.

Has anyone found a list of just what those 740 volumes were? I'd love to know, I'm sure the information is out there somewhere.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:52 AM on April 24, 2003

I'm not sure if it's on display any more, but the Library had all Jefferson's books set up in one place. Not all the books were the originals, but many were. It was very cool to see what the collection looked like then.

A great loss is the inability to browse the Library's collection now, to just wander up and down the aisles until I find something interesting. I actually have borrowing priveledges, but I haven't used them in the two years I've worked here.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2003

Heh heh, I just checked, and they're now non-commital about which birthday it is
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:42 AM on April 24, 2003

And for more information on how the library has been (mis)managed over the years, check out Nicholson Baker's Double Fold. It's quite shocking.

I learned more about Diethyl Zinc on the train this morning than is good for me . . .
posted by aladfar at 8:17 AM on April 24, 2003

The Hitler Library in the Library of Congress is the subject of a recent (and very fascinating) Atlantic piece. The Library of Congress apparently has more than a thousand of his old books, ranging from Peer Gynt to The Predictions of Nostradamus.
posted by Ljubljana at 8:21 AM on April 24, 2003

I don’t know if it’s worth a pilgrimage, but if you’re already in the DC area, the Library of Congress can be interesting to visit. Even if you’re not one to appreciate that grand library feel, the LOC keeps a busy schedule of exhibitions and events, including films. There’s a lecture on Morris Dancing next Wednesday in anticipation of May Day.

On preview: sigh ... off to read about mismanagement of a place I was determined to admire.
posted by win_k at 8:21 AM on April 24, 2003

Richard Cox, an archivist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, is a prominent critic of Baker's book. Read his critiques of the book here and here. You can also check out this MeFi thread from April 23, 2001.
posted by initapplette at 8:48 AM on April 24, 2003

It must be an old page they recycle every year: "In the almost two centuries since its founding...." Last I checked, 203 (even 202) years is a bit more than two centuries.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:17 AM on April 24, 2003

202.... 203, whatever it takes.

Godd post anyway, especially the Jefferson's legacy page.
posted by hama7 at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2003

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