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The Editors

Renewing the Library of Congress

Libraries are more important than ever, but the world's largest is at a crossroads.
Not going anywhere.

Not going anywhere.

Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP

For 215 years, the Library of Congress has been collecting and organizing the world's knowledge for the benefit of Americans. Now its longtime leader is exiting amid acrimony, its mission is increasingly muddled and -- no small matter -- Americans have Google. Is the world's largest library still necessary?

The answer is yes. But as with every institution in the digital age, it needs to evolve. Its next leader, the 14th Librarian of Congress, will face three big challenges.