>The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research arm of Congress and the oldest library in the country. Housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill (the Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison Buildings), it is home to nearly 33 million cataloged books and other printed materials in 470 languages, 3 million recordings, 14 million photographs, 5 million maps, and 63 million manuscripts.
Created in 1800 with $5,000 to buy "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress," the Library's first order came from London. The 740 books and three maps arrived in 1801 and lasted until 1812, when the British came back and burned the collection along with the rest of the Capitol.
Contrary to popular belief, the Library does not own a copy of every book published in the United States. That said, its 650 miles of shelves make this the world's largest library. Its collection grows by an average of 10,000 items a day, roughly half the items the library receives. Copyright law requires two copies of every published work in the U.S. be sent to the Library of Congress. Selection officers review the deluge to decide what gets kept in the permanent collection. Their goal is to build the world's greatest treasure of human knowledge with materials from every country.
The Library's first priority is to serve Congress, and its researchers compile and analyze information for congressional offices. While its Congressional Research Service (which receives a half-million requests for information a year) isn't available to journalists, it's a good idea to ask your local congressional office if they've received CRS research on their bill or issue. The work is first-rate and carefully devoid of spin.
The Library of Congress Press Room is available to credentialed press only. The photos, videos and printed materials in this room are for media use only and subject to copyright laws. Journalists can access some the LOC's press room multimedia content online by registering here: http://www.loc.gov/pressroom/registration
Visitors and journalists can access the library's materials on-site by applying for a Library of Congress card in Room LM140 of the Madison Building at Independence Avenue at First Street. The main reading room is open 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, and is closed on Sunday.
Of course in the Digital Age the LOC does not just collect books. In 2010, the LOC aquired the rights to all Twitter archives. Naturally, it announced its new possession on the official LOC Twitter account, "Library acquires ENTIRE Twitter archive. ALL tweets". Some worry the acquisition of tweets posted by all users is a violation of privacy. However, by posting on the Internet, Twitter users are already publishing their tweets in the public domain. The LOC says the data will only be available for scholarly purposes; i.e. to study anthropological implications, historical impact, economic factors - and, possibly, other less academic works, such as commercial surveys.
In 2010, the LOC had a total fiscal appropriation of over $646 million.
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540
The Library of Congress's most valuable resource is its congressional site THOMAS http://thomas.loc.gov. Here you can find technical information on Congress's inner workings such as bills, roll call votes, the Congressional Record, and congressional activity.
In the bills search engine, you can find bills using their bill number (H.R. 1950, S. 900, etc.) or by key words. Once your bill is pulled up, the entry shows the bill's text, action taken on it, summary, status, and sponsors and co-sponsors. Although the site has a wealth of information, updates to the site regarding bills can take a couple of days, so you may want to go directly to the sponsor's office for a copy of the bill text.
The Congressional Record is a log of the floor proceedings for both the House and Senate. You can find floor quotes by searching the record and search both public and private bills introduced daily. The Congressional Record can be conveniently searched by date.
(Hint: The official log of each day's proceedings isn't posted until the following day. But Congressional offices have access to the closed-captioning records, typically with only a 30-minute lag time. If you're on good terms with a press aide, this is a great way to shag or check quotes. The updated Record also is posted on the Government Printing Office site at 11 a.m. each day: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=CREC)
An hour after roll calls, the site lists the nays and yeas. The web site also has information on historical documents, links to federal agencies and background information on how Congress operates.
A lot of interesting news comes out at the subcommittee and committee levels, so find what sub/committees members of your congressional delegation serve on by familiarizing yourself with the committees.
THOMAS contains links to all the committee web sites under the Government Resources link on the left of the home page. It also has links to the weekly schedule for the House and Senate and the House clerk's web site listing the current day's events.
Other information on the website:
- Status of appropriations bills for the current year.
- Presidential nominations, including that all-important executive calendar number for Senate floor consideration.
- Basic information great for newbies, such as how the House and Senate operate.
- Useful links to information about the Executive and Legislative branches.
Does this agency's information need updating? email@example.com
Phone Number 202-707-5000
Reading Rooms 202-707-6400
Public Affairs 202-707-2905
Concerts (202) 707-5502
Pickford Theater Showings (202) 707-5677
American Folklife Events (202) 707-5510
Contact Thomas Librarian (202) 707-5079
Want to see if the LOC has a particular item? Visit the card catalogue web site at: http://catalog.loc.gov