The Library of Congress serves as the national library of the United States of America. Located in three buildings in Washington, DC, it is also the largest library in the world, with 530 miles (853 kilometers) of shelving. It has very large collections of a variety of materials from all over the world, with more than 22,000 new items arriving for catalog and disposal daily. The Library of Congress has also developed an independent classification system for books, which is used by some libraries instead of the Dewey Decimal System.
In 1800, President John Adams signed an act of Congress officially locating the national capitol in Washington, DC. The act also included a provision for the establishment of a library, originally intended for the use of Congress. The Library of Congress, as it came to be known, started relatively small, but quickly expanded, acquiring materials from all over the world. It still serves as the primary research library for members of Congress, and individuals over 18 with an ID issued by the United States government, such as a driver's license, are also able to visit the library and take advantage of its research collections.
The contents of the Library of Congress are held in three buildings: the Thomas Jefferson Building, the John Adams Building, and the James Madison Memorial Building, which currently serves as the headquarters for the library. The permanent collection includes over 30 million books in 470 languages, 58 million manuscripts, and over one million official government publications. It also houses a formidable rare book collection, newspapers from all over the world, films, photographs, graphic novels, sheet music, and sound recordings.
By convention, every individual interested in seeking copyright sends two copies of a new release to the Library of Congress. The library creates a catalog entry for the book, which is included in future editions. If the book is deemed historically significant, both copies will be retained as part of the permanent collection. If not, the books are sold or traded with other libraries. The Library of Congress also acts as a central database for copyrighted documents, and as the base for the United States Copyright Office.
Materials from the collections of the Library of Congress can only be checked out by US government officials. On rare occasions, if a citizen cannot acquire materials anywhere else, an arrangement for a loan can be made, as it is considered the lending library of last resort.