Chapter 23. The United States Library of Congress

The United States Library of Congress

A detail of the exterior of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress showing the busts of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Babington Macaulay. Taken at ISO 100, f/8, 1/250 second with a 35mm lens.

Why It's Worth a Photograph

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, and it serves as the research arm for members of the United States Congress. After a fire destroyed the original collection in 1814, Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the institution, thus starting the incredible collection that the Library offers today. Also under the Library is the Copyright Office, which provides the essential infrastructure for the nation's copyright system.

The Thomas Jefferson Building is the showpiece of the Library's three buildings. Its Great Hall is considered one of the most beautiful public buildings in the United States. Within the Thomas Jefferson Building are some of the most valued documents the Library possesses: drafts of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's copy of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson's original library, and a Gutenberg Bible.

Where Can I Get the Best Shot?

Photographs are allowed to be taken inside The Great Hall, but photographs of its documents and within the Reading Room are prohibited. The best pictures are therefore the exterior of ...

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