The Library of Congress, America's oldest national cultural institution, will be two hundred years old in the year 2000. With generous support from the U.S. Congress, it has become the largest repository of recorded knowledge in the world and a symbol of the vital connection between knowledge and democracy.
If ever a library had a single founder, Thomas Jefferson is the founder of the Library of Congress. His personal library is the Library's core, and the vast range of his interest determined the universal and diverse nature of the Library's collections and activities. The active mind was central to Jefferson's concept of government; he felt there was "no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." He believed that self-government depended on the free, unhampered pursuit of truth by an informed and involved citizenry. Today's Library of Congress epitomizes Jefferson's faith in learning and his practical determination to make democracy work. (Library of Congress)