Thursday, February 12, 2009
Lincoln & the Library of Congress
It seems appropriate on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth to do a post on a Lincoln library connection. An action by Lincoln had a profound impact on America's greatest library, the Library of Congress. That action was the appointment of Ainsworth Rand Spofford as Librarian of Congress on December 31, 1864. Spofford had served as the Assistant Librarian of Congress starting in September, 1861. Spofford was largely responsible for transforming the Library of Congress into a national library. Spofford played a significant role in the centralization of the copyright functions in the Library of Congress including the requirment that copies of items seeking copyright be deposited in the Library of Congress. Spofford also played a major role in gaining approval for the magnificent Library of Congress building that was completed in 1897. When John Russell Young was appointed Librarian of Congress in 1897, Spofford continued as Chief Assistant Librarian. The document above is an acknowledgement by Spofford of the two required copies of a publication being deposited in the Library of Congress. It was mailed on July 19, 1876, three months before the founding of the American Library Association. For an overview of the Librarians of Congress click here.