Today in 1800, The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress, with an appropriation of $5,000, when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. Today, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 147 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 33 million books and other print materials, 3 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 64.5 million manuscripts. The Library receives some 22,000 items each working day and adds approximately 10,000 items to the collections daily.
The most recently constructed Library building is the James Madison Building. In 1783, as a member of the Continental Congress, Madison became the first sponsor of the idea of a Library of Congress by proposing a list of books that would be useful to legislators. Ten quotations from the writings of James Madison adorn the outside walls of the Madison Building. Among them:
“What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of liberty & learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?”