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books featuring cars, airplanes, and railroads are open on top of a low book case with the wall of bookcases filled with books are in the background
A collection of Library materials, focusing on transportation in 1939, the year that the John Adams Building first opened to the public. (Science & Business Reading Room)

Celebrating a Milestone: The Adams Building Turns 85 Years Old

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This blog post was written by Lynn Weinstein, Business Reference and Research Specialist in the Science & Business Reading Room. 

On April 18, 2024, as part of a Thursday night “Live! at the Library” event, the staff of the Science & Business Reading Room hosted an Open House to celebrate the John Adams Building’s 85th anniversary. The Adams Building opened for business on January 3, 1939, with the reading room opening to the public on April 5, 1939.

a low bookshelf filled with science encyclopedias like Science & Technology with books and images of the John Adams Building with a wall of bookshelves in the background
A display of books and images, looking at the John Adams Building itself. (Science & Business Reading Room)

Nearly 300 patrons came to tour the reading room. They browsed a variety of displays curated by library staff, including materials about: the Adams building itself; the Copyright Office, which originally occupied space in the building; the 1939 New York World’s Fair; statistics and publications of the times, including cookbooks; transportation innovations; and the history of the townhouses on the site prior to the construction of the Adams Building and their occupants.

reading room desk with two lamps where a display of cookbooks are featured
Cookbooks from the Library’s collections. (Science & Business Reading Room)

Visit the Science and Business Reading Room home page to learn more about how readers can use us as a gateway for science, engineering, business and economics research at the Library of Congress. Here you can check out our Art and Architecture of the John Adams Building page, where you can watch our John Adams Building: 85th Anniversary Celebration video, introducing you to our building and some of the features you’ll find within (or, check it out at the bottom of this post). There is also a related, shorter Instagram Reel available to view. You can go deeper into the history of the Adams Building with the StoryMap, “A Handsome Box: The Adams Building” or read about further details of the building in our blog, Inside Adams, that highlight yet more of the intricate details of our John Adams Building. 

the low bookshelf features books and items about and from the World's Fair with the bookshelves in the background
An array of materials from the Library’s collection, highlighting the 1939 World’s Fair. (Science & Business Reading Room)

Individuals interested in visiting us onsite are first required to obtain a reader’s registration card in the Jefferson or Madison buildings before heading over to the Adams building. We offer public access computer terminals, WiFi, access to approximately 1,000 databases subscribed to by the Library of Congress, a book services station, and much more. You can enjoy our comfortable seating, and table and chairs where you can plug in, spread out and work. Come, check out the architecture of this Beaux-Arts and Art Deco gem of a building, and settle into study or research here! 

Questions about the Adams building, the Science & Business Reading Room collections, or our services? Use our  Ask a Business Librarian or Ask a Science Librarian service to find out more! 


 If you are interested in more Business and Science topics, then subscribe to Inside Adams — it’s free!” 

Comments (3)

  1. I love the Adams Building! The Jefferson Building is a jewel, but its architecture and decoration is almost exclusively limited to European and American influences. The decoration of the Adams building – starting with the front doors celebrating Mayan, Norse, Aztec, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Cherokee, Akkadian, Irish, Indian and Persian gods -mark the arrival of the Library of Congress as a celebration of world culture.

  2. I’ve been impressed with the Jefferson Bldg. since I first entered it in July of 1987, when I started my internship under Connie Carter, in Science & Technology (before the 2 halves of the floor merged) Still impressed when I visit. And I still miss the view from my office 😎
    Congrats on 85 years! Keep up the good work!

  3. I meant to say the Adams Bldg.–not Jefferson! (my mom would call this a senior moment, but I don’t think I’ll call it that)

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