The first of the four United States Library of Congress Buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building has been constructed since 1890 and is situated between 17th and 19th streets SE, between Potomac and Madison streets in Washington, D.C. It was designed by prominent architect John Hancock and carries the name of the first US President, Jefferson. Today the building houses the world renowned National Portrait Gallery. Along with the Gallery, the Library of Congress, which is one of the most important American museums, is also located in the vicinity. It is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.
Today the building houses the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Cabinet rooms, Executive offices and the National Archives. The U.S. Congress usually convenes in session in both chambers at the same time but convenes only in one when needed. This is done for security reasons. The U.S. Congress generally takes a two-day Christmas break.
Visitors to the Library of Congress need to have a valid government sponsored photo ID. They are asked to show this at the entrance and during other times. The Library has a permanent collection of over three million books, manuscripts, periodicals, pamphlets and other printed materials covering every subject imaginable. All materials in the library are categorized by subject and country of origin. There are libraries dedicated to music, art, history, children and technology. There is a central Library of Congress that serves as a single location for access to the entire Congress.
When a U.S. congressional representative is sworn in to office, they are required to sit as an individual in a special seat in the House of Representatives or the Senate along with their official staff. The official who facilitates this seating process is known as a congressional aide. The aide is there to help the congressional representative to make sure that they are sitting in the right place and that their constituents can recognize them.
Every member of Congress is also allotted two floor days each year for travel, in addition to a certain number of days in Washington, D.C., for official functions. The members must understand that there are rules governing how many days they can actually visit the Library of Congress. They must stay on the appropriate committee floors and be available to the floor manager for questions. If a member attends more than the specified number of floor days, it is considered a lapse and they are required to repay the appropriate amount of money to their committee.
Congressional libraries offer a variety of services to their members. Many libraries also hold seminars and community events. Most libraries also maintain digital databases of newspapers, magazines, government and public records. There are some libraries that have special services for children, such as computer software and games. All of these services are used to help members serve their constituents effectively and learn about their responsibilities.