Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, District Of Columbia

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with over 162 million items on several hundred miles of shelving, in formats that range from papyrus to optical disk, stored at several locations. The Library also has the world's largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection, with more than 5 million maps and atlases. In addition, the Library boasts a Gutenberg Bible (one of 3 perfect copies on vellum in the world), a cuneiform tablet dating from 2040 B.C., over 7 million pieces of sheet music, as well as the largest law library in the world. It was founded in 1800, originally housed inside the Capitol itself. After the British burned the Capitol building in 1814, the library was started again with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,847 books. As it grew, new buildings were constructed to house its collections, starting in 1897 with the Jefferson Building (located prominently behind the US Capitol Building, and next to the Supreme Court), then the Adams Building (1938), and the Madison Building in 1981. The main off-site storage facilities are the Book Storage Module buildings at Fort Meade, Maryland, where as many as 50 million items may be stored in more than a dozen “modules” over the coming decades. As of 2007, all of the Library's films, television programs, and audio recordings are being consolidated and preserved at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, in Culpeper, Virginia.