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Public Statements

208th Anniversary of Library of Congress

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

208TH ANNIVERSARY OF LIBRARY OF CONGRESS -- (Senate - April 24, 2008)

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Library of Congress celebrates today its 208th anniversary. On this day in 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.

The original collection included just 740 volumes and 3 maps, which are stored right here in the Capitol. In fact, what is now the reception area of the Republican leader's office was the Library's very first home. When British troops burned the Capitol building in 1814, they used the books and maps of the Library to ignite the flames, and all 3,000 volumes in the collection were destroyed.

Several years ago, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed a joint session of Congress, he visited the leader's suite and told then-majority leader Bill Frist that although it was coming a bit late, he was sorry for the fire incident.

Today, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. There are more than 138 million items, including books, recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, and manuscripts. At the Library of Congress, access to this wonderful resource is no longer limited to Members of Congress. Today, the general public can browse everything from Presidential papers to books in over 470 languages, dating as far back as the 15th century.

Two hundred eight years after its launch, the Library is renowned for its original mission of making resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and sustaining and preserving a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. Over 3,500 staff members work for the Library, and we thank them for doing so much to keep our rich history and heritage alive.

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