Nation's Library Celebrates Lincoln's 200th Birthday

"We collect universally. We collect in every subject, every language on earth," said Raymond. "More than half of our collections are in languages other than English."

As the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress has content in 470 languages among its millions of books and offerings. And while it's a common misconception it has every book every published in the United States, it doesn't, though it does have 650 miles of bookshelves that hold more than 32 million titles.

The History

Today, the Library of Congress aims to serve as the research arm of Congress and is recognized as the country's national library. But the institution wasn't even created until 1800, when President John Adams signed a resolution.

Initially, $5,000 was appropriated for the Library of Congress, which had about 700 volumes that mostly consisted of legal books.

"It was a very kind of narrow specific focus and then that collection had," Raymond said.

But when the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812, they also destroyed the Library of Congress and used its books as kindling.

Thomas Jefferson later sold his book collection to re-establish the Library of Congress, Raymond said. Since the former president had so many interests, his books varied in topic, and that broadened the library's focus.

The Library and the Digital Age

Today the library is still a place where scholars and historians come to study and conduct research, but it's also open to the public.

"While it is Congress' library, it's [Americans'] library too," Raymond said. "It's free and it's open to the public." "It's not just a museum. It's a library where things are coming in all the time," he said.

Though Raymond admitted it's more difficult to chronicle more recent information.

"The more modern technology is the more risk it is to be lost," Raymond said, citing the rapidly changing Internet as an example.

Still the library chronicles Web sites, including many of the government pages in President Bush's final days.

Raymond said they want to have record of the sites before they're changed with the incoming administration.

"We're more about collecting history and culture," he said.

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