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Thomas Jefferson Building Marks 110th

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Thomas Jefferson Building with gilded dome

There is so much history around this sprawling place that sometimes a milestone or two worth mentioning will slip beneath the radar.

The Politico reported that yesterday (Nov. 1) was the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Library of Congress?s Thomas Jefferson Building on Capitol Hill (although the ?TJB? moniker wouldn?t come until many decades later).

On this day in 1897, the Library of Congress building on First Street and Independence Avenue Northwest opened its doors to the public. Previously, the library had been housed in the Congressional Reading Room in the U.S. Capitol.

In 1871, after the library had outgrown its cramped quarters, Ainsworth Spofford (1825-1908), the librarian of Congress, proposed housing the library in a separate building. During Spofford?s tenure, the collection expanded from some 60,000 items to more than 1 million.

Since Spofford?s time, that number has grown to more than 134 million items in essentially every format on which information can be recorded, in roughly 470 languages, and occupying some 615 miles of shelves.

Despite the subsequent addition of the John Adams Building and the James Madison Memorial Building on Capitol Hill, the new Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., vast modular storage at Ft. Meade and other facilities, the Thomas Jefferson Building remains our pride and joy, a shining embodiment of old and new, of past, present and future.

Happy belated anniversary, TJB!

(Image of west facade of Thomas Jefferson Building ca. 1900, showing the original gilded dome, from Library of Congress PPOC)

Comments (4)

  1. Happy anniversary indeed – I’ve lived in this city for 3 years, and maintain that the Jefferson is by far the most gorgeous building here!

  2. I’ve also lived here but for 7 years. The Jefferson is a fabulous building and a tribute.

  3. Happy anniversary indeed – I’ve lived in this city for 3 years, and maintain that the Jefferson is by far the most gorgeous building here!

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