The library is the largest library in the world by collection size, with the second largest being the British Library. The Library's "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages. Two-thirds of the books it acquires each year are in languages other than English."
The Library of Congress moved to
After a period of slow growth, another fire struck the Library in its Capitol chambers in 1851, again destroying a large amount of the collection, including many of
This development culminated in the construction between 1888 and 1894 of a separate, extensive library building across the street from the Capitol, in the Beaux Arts style with fine decorations, murals, paintings, marble halls, columns and steps, carved hardwoods and a stained glass dome. It included several stories built underground of steel and cast iron stacks.
The Library's primary mission of researching inquiries made by members of Congress is carried out through the Congressional Research Service, traces its origin to 1914, and was first permanently authorized (as the Legislative Reference Service) with the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.
Although the Library is open to the public, only high-ranking government officials may check out books and materials (except through Inter-Library Loan, which is available to the public). The Library promotes literacy and American literature through projects such as the