The Jefferson building once contained all of the librarys collection, but as the
stacks grew with books, photographs, films, maps, etc., another building was needed. The
Adams Building was added in 1939 followed later by the James Madison Building in 1980.
Today, the three buildings of the Library of Congress contain over 108 million items. A
twelve-minute orientation video is constantly running in The Jefferson Building for those
who wish to learn about the history and function of the Library of Congress.
The Jefferson Building, famous for its Italian Renaissance design, now holds part of
the Librarys collection of books and along with the Madison Building, hosts some of
the librarys changing exhibits. Under the dome of the Jefferson Building, the Main
Reading room of the library is a functional research library complete with mahogany desks,
(Only members of Congress can check books out), while the Great Hall of the library is
decorated with murals, paintings, sweeping marble staircases and colonnades.
The Adams building is only open for research, but the James Madison Building hosts some
of the librarys changing exhibits as well as its own permanent collection. Artifacts
include one of the worlds three perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible.