Catching up with Congress (Library of)

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge! This month my theme is Library Love, focusing on my love of libraries generally, as well as for the Sacramento Public Library (my local library) more specifically. I hope you find these posts informative as well as fun, and that they encourage you to visit your local library to see what’s new.

The Library of Congress: what is it, what does it do, and why does Congress need its own library, anyway?

To quickly summarize: founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is both the de facto national library of the United States and our nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It’s actually a research library, serving members of Congress, and it’s also one of the largest libraries in the world, with over 173 million items in its collection.

If you’re a writer who has ever registered an official copyright, you already know that the LOC is also in charge of providing all copyright services and creates the laws surrounding copyrights in the US (the US Copyright Office is actually a department of the Library). You may have also sent copies of your books to the LOC as part of the copyright process (the Library keeps copies of books published in the United States as part of their archive, which also helps explain why they’ve got SO MUCH STUFF).

Fast Facts

The Library of Congress offers an Ask A Librarian service, where you can literally ask an LOC librarian for assistance with your research. Pretty cool, right? You can even ask specific subject matter experts for help, if you’re looking for something a little more complicated, so you’re sure to get the best results.

In addition to these services, the LOC also operates the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, which offers free Braille, talking book and other audio materials to folks throughout the US. If you know someone who could use this kind of access, you can fill out this online form to receive more information about their services by email, phone or snail mail.

Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to sharing more library trivia, tips and tricks for getting the most out of your local library — using all their awesome and often unpublicized free resources — throughout the month of April. Meet you back here tomorrow for a fresh new post!