The Library of Congress is a Library for YOU.
The Library of Congress is a renowned bastion of knowledge, culture and history and an awe-inspiring American achievement. For more than two centuries, we have provided the U.S. Congress and its constituents access to the greatest collection of information and resources ever assembled. As the largest library in the world, with more than 176 million physical items and a growing digital collection, we have the responsibility to continue to collect, preserve and share these treasures with users from coast to coast.
More than a century ago, my predecessor Herbert Putnam noted, “A book used is fulfilling a higher purpose than a book which is merely preserved.” In other words, it is not enough to collect and preserve. To be successful, collections must be used. This same principle applies to all parts of our institution — services and programs, too, must be accessible and used.
The Library’s collection and its human expertise hold untold intellectual and inspirational value. We have seen firsthand the spark that results when someone makes a connection with the Library: when a Member of Congress relies on our reports to develop legislation; a Midwestern middle school classroom virtually watches and talks to National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds; bright-eyed school children high-five bestselling author Dav Pilkey after his presentation; families line up at the National Book Festival to see Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; digital volunteers transcribe the Library’s collection from home; historians pore over the papers of our Founding Fathers; and Joni Mitchell receives the Gershwin Prize.
We are committed to continue expanding access and enhancing services, strengthening our capacities and fostering innovation and building lifelong and meaningful connections with our users of today and of tomorrow. To meet this challenge, the Library will be improving its visitor and user experience both in-person and online. The Library is an equalizer. With treasures to engage, inspire, and inform each of our users, we know we can realize our vision of connecting with all Americans. Because the Library of Congress is a library for everyone.
14th Librarian of Congress
Engage, inspire, and inform Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity.
Every day, millions of people of all ages engage with the Library of Congress to be informed…to be inspired…to seek and to create knowledge. As the nation’s first federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library, our vast and expanding collections engage intellect, cultivate curiosity and spark creativity. Our collections reveal the stories of our nation and connect us with the world. Service to Congress steadfastly remains the foundation for the Library’s mission. We continue to engage, inspire and inform Congress through our collections, services and experiences, including on-demand analysis, policy consultations, briefings, events, programs and constituent engagement. Within our walls, the U.S. Copyright Office promotes creativity and knowledge by administering the nation’s copyright system for the benefit of all.
Service to the American people requires a user-centered approach for ever-growing, ever-changing communities, to welcome those visiting and interacting with the Library in person and many more interacting online. To fulfill our role as steward and resource for all our users, the Library continues to mature our digital capabilities and strategically integrate digital approaches in all we do. We use the promise of technology to enable new and innovative approaches to meet in-person and online needs.
Researchers, learners and creators from across the globe turn to the Library for our unparalleled, freely-available source materials. Drawing knowledge and inspiration from the Library’s extensive collection of manuscripts, maps, rare books, photographs, films and sound recordings, our users produce fresh works that will in turn benefit future generations. Celebrated artists and public figures, as well as the many associations, libraries, educators and others with whom we collaborate, amplify our message: there is something for everyone at the Library.
Among the Library’s most engaging programs, our National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled provides life-enhancing service to millions of Americans with blindness and other print disabilities through a national network of libraries that distribute the latest contemporary literature in a variety of accessible formats.
Conceived as a monumental temple to knowledge, the soaring frescoed spaces and gilded halls of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building have made it a prominent landmark in the nation’s capital, drawing visitors from far and wide. Every day that the Library opens its doors to researchers and the public, thousands of visitors draw inspiration from the building, our staff and our collections. Beyond the Library’s physical spaces, exhilarating digital experiences and content await our virtual visitors. Regardless of where they are, people can connect with our collections and experts.
A variety of in-person programs, exhibitions and events such as the National Book Festival, the upcoming permanent Treasures Gallery and Live at the Library are enhancing the in-person experience and engaging new audiences. As well, the crowdsourcing platform By the People and livestreams of the Library’s unparalleled literary content do the same in our digital space.
Every day, we add thousands of new items to our collections, both physical and digital. We know that we have something for everyone, and we make our collections, records and products as widely accessible as possible. Now, students can reference our collection items in their school papers, hobbyists can access materials related to their interests, and academic researchers can embark on their next projects, all from their schools, homes or offices. Whether they need on-site or online access to our resources, our expert staff will be here to help them.
For users in the legislative, judicial and executive branches, our scholars and specialists from the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Copyright Office, the Law Library of Congress, our reading rooms, the Kluge Center and our Federal Research Division provide authoritative knowledge via our collections and through direct consultation. With our on-site and online services, users near and far are able to access our wide body of resources and expertise.
All Americans are connected to the Library of Congress.
With its unparalleled collections, services, events and products, the Library is forging significant and enduring bonds with people in communities across America, whether they visit us in Washington, D.C., or find us from their classrooms, local libraries, community centers or living rooms.
The goals and objectives in this strategic plan advance our already significant progress toward the Librarian’s vision that the Library connect to all Americans. By enhancing awareness of the Library’s offerings, improving access to those resources and increasing usage through a suite of services that meet diverse needs, the Library will continue to connect with more people and in more meaningful ways.
This plan will also further the Library’s ability to keep pace with a changing world and connect with users near and far. Leveraging digital technology and fostering innovation, we strive to be recognized as trustworthy and approachable, to steward our unique content and services through continuous conversation and improvement and to balance our evergreen resources with a forward-thinking ability to meet modern challenges.