The Library of Congress and its Librarians

Source: Margaret Wood, Law Library of Congress, In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress blog, September 15, 2016

I expect almost everyone who works at the Library of Congress can tell you the year in which the Library was established – if not the exact date.  The Library is the oldest cultural institution in the United States.  Its establishment dates back to April 24, 1800 when President John Adams signed a law that moved the seat of government from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.   This law was titled “An Act to make further provision for the removal and accommodation of the Government of the United States” (ch.37, 2 Stat. 55 (1800)).  The law covers a lot of ground in five sections.   The executive branch is directed to remove to Washington; money is appropriated for furniture for the White House and the Capitol; and footways are to be made for “the greater facility of communication between the various departments and offices of the government.”  Section five appropriates money “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress, at the said city of Washington, and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them … “  The Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House were charged with purchasing these books using a catalogue which would be supplied to them by a joint committee which was to be appointed for that purpose…..