Library of Congress, Washington DC

With nearly 7,000 books added to its collection every day, Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, established in 1800 to prove to the world that the United States was a cultured country. The library's nearly 850 km (530 mi) of shelves hold 32 million books and 61 million manuscripts. Boasting the largest rare book collection in North America, the library also houses one of only three remaining vellum copies of the famous Gutenberg Bible. Dedicated to organizing information from the past three centuries, this institution preserves approximately 1 million newspaper issues, 500,000 microfilm reels, 5 million maps, 3 million sound recordings, and nearly 15 million prints and photographic images. Start your quest for knowledge at the visitor center, where you can arrange for a guided tour of the reading rooms. Arrange to visit Library of Congress and other attractions in Washington DC using our Washington DC holiday planner .
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Library of Congress Reviews
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8,411 reviews
  • To view, some of the actual documents that helped develop our country is inspiring. Leave your library card at home. This place is well protected and guarded.  more »
  • Which did we love more Library of Congress of National Archives? Hard to say, but this is a MUST SEE! Schedule your arrival so you can take the free guided tour. The average tourist will miss the hist...  more »
  • Outside the library blends into other surrounding buildings. Inside, the building is brilliant and exquisite. You can see rare books in the showcase.  more »
  • Lovely building on Capitol Hill. The entrance is free and you can enjoy the grand architecture inside and outside. Don't miss out in the impressive fountain just under the entrance stairs by the main road. On The ground floor you'll find one of the first bibles printed in Latin. Also the secretaries office. Take the stairs and go to level 2 to see the library hall from the balcony.
  • This is a must see in Washington DC. We waited for the free tour hoping it would take us into the reading room. It doesn’t go anywhere that you can’t explore on your own and unless you have specific questions I would skip this tour. They only send about 15-20 people with each guide but there is no easy way to tell who was assigned so it would be easy to just tag along with a guide group. I would recommend getting your library card so you can go into the reading rooms. You have to go to a lower floor (just ask, everyone was super helpful) and provide photo id. Large bags are not allowed so plan to check them at coat check or leave them with a member of your group and take turns looking around. Your library card is valid for 2 years so you can look at their online books too.
  • This is heaven for book lovers! Seeing Jefferson's personal collection of books is a unique experience. The art work on the ceilings is breathtaking and the quotes written on the walls are inspiring. Mosaic work in the walls, floors, and ceilings is superb. A must see!
  • Admissions is free. Take your time to look at all the beautiful architecture. It is amazing! Ask questions. If you are 16 years old or older, and you are doing research, you can use the Library. No food or drinks are permitted, however, they do allow bottle water. While we visited there was an America Baseball exhibit.
  • This was not my favorite place to be personally, though it did have some merits and others would give it 5 stars. The architecture was hands-down the best and most beautiful of all the places I've seen in DC, and the history is interesting, but there wasn't actually that much history in the tour and seeing architecture isn't too meaningful to me personally. There were a lot of people there, so it was very crowded and noisy, and for the architecture, you see it and take your pictures and that's it. However, your experience really depends on your tour guide, because there's actually a lot to see and read about, yet my tour guide was hard to understand and didn't take us to nearly as many places as there were to see. I would like to share some important information too. 1. The entrance is on 1st St on the Jefferson building. The tours are of the Jefferson building. 2. You can take as many pictures as you want wherever you want, but some places you can't use flash. 3. I know lots of people who loved the tour; if you love touring historical European buildings and/or history, you'll love the LoC. It's not great for kids though. 4. You can easily spend a long time here. The tours are 45 minutes long, but you can break off and explore extra as much as you want, and there's an incredible amount to see. 5. You don't get to explore the actual library and read the books there; you only get to see it from a top view. You can only go into the actual library if you are 16 or older with a card, and you reserve books online and read them in the reading room. (They do have a kids' library that you don't need a card for). All in all, this is a place where you can do many things, and the most common thing to do here (tour) is not for everyone, but it's amazing for the people it is best suited for.

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