Sorry about that
It was 208 years ago that President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purpose of “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.”
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recalls today, the library was set up in what is now the reception area of his leadership office.
“The original collection included just 740 volumes and three maps, which were stored right here in the Capitol,” he notes. “When British troops burned the Capitol building in 1814, they used the books and maps of the library to ignite the flames, and all 3,000 volumes of the collections were destroyed.”
An amused Mr. McConnell hasn’t forgotten the day when then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed a joint session of Congress and “he visited the leader’s suite and told then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that although it was coming a bit late, he was sorry for the fire incident.”
The library remains the largest in the world, with a staff of more than 3,500 and holding more than 138 million items — books and maps to sheet music.