The Library of Congress celebrates its 216th birthday on Sunday. Founded on April 24, 1800, thanks to an appropriation approved by Pres. John Adams of $5,000 for the purchase of “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.” What started with a whopping 740 books and three maps has evolved to more than 162 million items, including more than 38 million books and other print materials, 5.5 million maps, 70 million manuscripts, 14 million photographs, 7.1 million pieces of sheet music and 3.6 million recordings.
The Library adds materials for its collections at a rate of more than 12,000 items per working day — chosen from the roughly 15,000 received daily.
Today, the Library makes freely available online more than 60.9 million primary source files, including manuscripts, newspapers, films, sound recordings and photographs. You can browse by topic the Library’s online collection items.