There are plenty of reasons why people go to the library. A lot are there to be able to gather information on whatever they’re working on at the moment, be it for school, for work, or for personal research. There are a few who make use of the library only when specific data and information can’t be had by any other means. No matter what your motive for visiting the library is, you’ll surely want to set your eyes on the following ten largest libraries in the world:
1. Washington, D.C.’s Library of Congress
If you’ve already watched the movie National Treasure 2, then you’ve already taken a glimpse of this magnificent library. Within the confines of this center, you’ll find all you need to answer your questions about culture, science, philosophy, history, and any other subject matter.
During the War of 1812, a huge portion of the original collection was sold. Fortunately, another 6,457 books were sold to the library by Thomas Jefferson from his very own collection. Composed of four buildings in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress is such an impressive display of books and a grandly designed structure that it has been used in numerous movies to this date. With a vast book collection at over 30 million and written in just about any language you can think of, the Library of Congress definitely deserves all the fame. The public can visit the library, but only high ranking American officials are allowed to check out books.
2. Moscow’s Institute for Scientific Information Russian Academy of Sciences
This library’s 13.5 million-book collection was established to collate any and all publications done by research facilities and Russian scholars. If you’re looking for data that are related to findings in the field of linguistics, nuclear power, and even gen biology, then this is the right place to start your search. However, you will need to be part of the selected few who are members of this institute. There are certain requirements that must be met, and you must be elected in. As of this day, there are about 500 members of varying membership levels.
3. Beijing’s National Library of China
The West doesn’t have a monopoly on libraries, for the East also has its share of the world’s largest libraries, among which is the National Library of China. Situated in Beijing and 26.3 million books in its collection, the NLC is sure to give joy to the average bibliophile. Among its hoard of books, you’ll find the world’s greatest and richest compilations of Chinese writings and ancient documents. Founded in the year 1909 and opened doors to the public three years after, the NLC also contains a lot of Qing Dynasty writings as well as a collection of literature inscribed on bones and tortoise shells.
4. Massachusetts’ Harvard University Library
Compared to all the other universities in the world, Harvard University Library houses the most enormous private collection of books. Established in the year 1638, the Harvard library is considered as America’s oldest. John Harvard was the first to add books to this great collection, which was initially composed of just 400 books. As the years went by, the collection grew to large proportions and keeps on doing so to this day. In the year 1638, the Harvard University Library housed the United States’ most impressive collection of books, but a disastrous fire destroyed that status as it turned a considerable number of books into ashes. Today, the library has a total of over 13 million books displayed in 90 library wings, each dealing with a particular field of study.
5. Ottawa’s National Library of Canada
With nearly 19 million books in its collection, the National Library of Canada is also a contender for the biggest library in the world. Founded in 1953, the library was established with the goal of collecting and preserving Canada’s heritage in the form of documents, texts, pictures, and other writings related to the country’s culture and history. You can even find one of North America’s most ancient books in this library. The said book was printed by the 1st century historian, Flavius Josephus, in the year 1470. If you’re planning to set your sights on the book, however, you’ll have to get permission and be granted with the special viewing privilege as it, along with a number of other books, is kept in safety vaults.
6. St. Petersburg’s Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Commissioned by the Russian Federation for the purpose of collecting the country’s books and research findings, the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences has a collection that consists of numerous writings done by Russian writers, scientists, and a host of other significant personalities. It is the legal obligation of all writers and scientific institutions who are publishing works to donate a copy of their writings or findings to the library. This played a huge role in helping the library amass such an impressive 20 million-book collection, although the accuracy of this number isn’t guaranteed today, since a fire that happened at some point in the past destroyed a large chunk of the collection. No one can say just how many of the books were recovered or replaced and how many books were added since then.
7. Frankfurt’s German National Library
Housing a collection that consists of approximately 18.5 million books, the German National Library in Frankfurt has done a satisfactory job of painstakingly accumulating every German publication and work, which was the intention behind the library’s founding. The library collects not only works done by the Germans, but also any publication related to the nation. Examples of such works include propaganda from the countries mixed up in the world war. Perhaps one of the most unique features of this library is the branch that displays all the German music records as well as the publications that deal solely with music.
8. Kiev’s Vernadsky National Scientific Library of Ukraine
With a collection of writings, manuscripts, and books reaching more than 13 million, the Vernadsky National Scientific Library in Kiev is the country’s hub of information. The library was founded in 1918, and a lot of its collection can trace back their roots to the 18th and 19th centuries. Apart from the collections of the country’s presidents, the library also houses Ukraine’s scientific archives, scientific works, and cultural compositions and manuscripts. Every year, the library acquires over half a million documents and works.
9. New York Public Library
Another library worth mentioning is the New York Public Library, which has about 11 million books to its name. Aimed at bringing history and information closer to the general public, the library has plenty of branches scattered throughout New York where people can check out books as they wish. However, there are also branches that are solely for research and where check outs aren’t allowed. Much of the library’s funding over the years was from private individuals and rich philanthropists.
10. London’s British Library
When it comes to the number of items in its collection, the British Library is unparalleled. It has over 150 million items, a lot of which are works circulated in the United Kingdom. The library also has scores of items from other countries and has books written in a multitude of languages. You will also discover that these works can be found in formats ranging from stone inscriptions to digital publications. The growth rate of the British Library is 3 million pieces per year.