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January 30Trivia powered by Prof. Walter

President James Madison Approved an Act of Congress to Purchase Thomas Jefferson's Library
In 1815

Thomas Jefferson, enjoying his retirement at Monticello, offered to sell his collection of 6,487 volumes to the Library Committee of Congress in order to rebuild the collection of the Congressional Library. His personal collection contained over twice the number of books Congress had lost in the fire. It also included a wider range of topics in several languages. The previous library covered only law, economics, and history. However, Jefferson said of his collection, "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection."

Jefferson's collection was the seed from which the Library of Congress grew into the world's largest library today. Accessible to all Americans through its Web sites and in three buildings on Capitol Hill, it continues to grow. Other than books, the collection includes millions of newspapers, maps, prints, photographs, sound recordings, films and digital materials, as well as the personal papers of hundreds of famous Americans including 23 U.S. presidents. If you have a shelf of books at home, think of it as the beginning of your own private library, like Jefferson's. Be sure to visit your public and school libraries often. From the beginning, libraries have played a vital role in American democracy.

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