With National Library Week coming to a close, I’m wrapping up photos of the Library of Congress. Today’s Library building is the James Madison Building.
In 1957, Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford initiated studies for a third Library building. Congress appropriated planning funds for that structure, today’s James Madison Memorial Building, in 1960, and construction was approved by an act of Congress on October 19, 1965 that authorized an appropriation of $75 million. Excavation and foundation work began in June 1971, and work on the superstructure was completed in 1976. The cornerstone, inscribed with the date 1974, was laid on March 8, 1974. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 24, 1980, and the building actually opened on May 28, 1980.
The Madison Building serves both as the Library’s third major structure and as this nation’s official memorial to James Madison, the “father” of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the fourth president of the United States.
In 1815, Madison was president of the United States and a keen observer when the library of his close personal friend and collaborator, Thomas Jefferson, became the foundation of a renewed Library of Congress. Like Jefferson, he was a man of books and an enlightened statesman who believed the power of knowledge was essential for individual liberty and democratic government.