Wonders of the World

Michael Dersin

Capitol Hill, Washington

Library of Congress

Capitol Hill, Washington
Founded: 1800

With more than 132 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelf, the Library of Congress is the largest in the world. Founded in 1800, it's also one of the oldest federal cultural institutions, and in 2005 there were 1.4 million visitors to its current site, which occupies three buildings on Capitol Hill. Its collection is ever growing—librarians add 10,000 items on a daily basis. Not confined to books, the collection includes recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts as well as various rare oddities —one book is so small its pages can only be turned by a needle. The library also houses the world's largest law library, as well as the oldest extant copyrighted motion picture, Thomas Edison's Record of a Sneeze from 1893. Some 10 million items from the library's American History collection are now available on a Web site.

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