During the War of 1812, the British burned the Capitol, which was home to the Library of Congress at that time. In 18185, Thomas Jefferson sold his collection of 6,487 books to the library to replenish its shelves.
By 1871, the chief librarian proposed a separate building for the library.
According to Library historian John Y. Cole, Spofford envisioned “a circular, domed reading room at the Library’s center, surrounded by ample space for the Library’s various departments.” After much debate and two design competitions, Congress finally approved the plan in 1886.
The Library of Congress opened the doors to its first building on 01 November 1897, long past the country’s initial centennial. Today the complex boasts three buildings.
Congress named the facility the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1980 in honor of his contribution in its earliest days.