Libraries are knowledge banks. They allow you to have conversations with people born hundreds of years ago so you can benefit from the wisdom they acquired over their lifetimes. Libraries not only store knowledge and give an easy access to books but also allow you to share ideas, explore interests, and travel around the world. Being knowledge stores means libraries allow knowledge to transfer across generations, regardless of the time barrier. You can read on physics and math or psychology, philosophy, history, and numerous other subjects. Libraries also provide you with a platform where by having discussions and interactions with other people, you learn more. In addition, books are available not only in different languages but also translations are available which help in connecting the world. Exposure to such difference cultures also helps to promote tolerance in a society. We have brought to you a list of the top 10 largest libraries in the world with respect to their books collection.
10. Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Books Collection: 20.5 million
Established in 1714, Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a state owned library located in St. Petersburg. It allows access to the employees of the institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It has a Rare Book Department which possesses 18,615 manuscripts. It also has unique maps of Russia which includes the Atlas of The Russian Empire (1745). With a total central collection of about 20.5 million items, it ranks as the 10th largest library in the world.
9. Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Books Collection: 31 million
Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) is the national library of France, located in Paris. It was originally established in 1461 as the Royal Library and in 1792, it became BnF. It has a wide collection of not only academic material but also artistic material; from books and documents to coins and medals. Approximately 150,000 documents are added to its collection ever year. Its digital library also offers more than a million documents. Hence, with a collection of about 31 million items, it stands 9th in our list.
8. National Library of China
Books Collection: 31.2 million
Located in Beijing, the National Library of China is the largest library in Asia. It not only has the largest collection of Chinese books in the world but also proudly possesses the largest collection of foreign language items in China (in more than 115 languages). In the category of ‘monographs’ it holds 8.2 million volumes in Chinese while 3.7 million volumes in foreign languages. It also holds 13.9 million volumes of periodicals and 3.3 million items/volumes of special collection which includes rare books, maps, documents, government publications, etc. Thus, with a collection of about 31.2 million items, the National Library of China ranks 8th in this list.
7. Royal Danish Library
Books Collection: 33 million
The Royal Danish Library is the national library of Denmark and university library of the University of Copenhagen. It has three branches and with a collection of over 33 million it is the largest library in Nordic countries. It has a collection of 33.3 million physical items (including 6.1 million books and journals, 18.5 million prints and photographs, etc) and 393 thousand GB of digital material. Hence, with its vast collection, it ranks 7th in this list.
6. National Diet Library
Books Collection: 35.6 million
The National Diet Library is located in Japan and it is the only Japanese national library. Established in 1948, it has two main facilities (in Tokyo and Kyoto) and 27 branches around the country. Its collections include about 9.9 million books, 10 million periodicals, 669 thousand sound recordings, and 541 thousand maps. It possesses many official documents related to the Second World War and old Japanese writings inherited from the former Imperial Library. With a collection of more than 35.6 million items, the National Diet Library stands 6th in this list of world’s largest libraries.
5. National Library of Russia
Books Collection: 36.5 million
Established in 1795, the National Library of Russia is the oldest Russian public library located in St. Petersburg. It has had many names in the past but presently it is known as the National Library of Russia. Its notable collections include St. Petersburg Bede (746), Trebizond Gospel (10th Century), and Ostromir Gospel (1056). Having a collection of about 36.5 million items, it is Russia’s second largest library while the world’s 5th largest library.
4. Russian State Library
Books Collection: 43 million
Originally established in 1862, the Russian State Library is the national library of Russia. It is the country’s largest library, located in Moscow. Its collection includes 17 million books, 13 million journals, 350 thousand sound records, 150,000 maps, and much more. The Russian State Library entertains registration requests of about 200 people every day. Thus, with its elaborate collection of more than 43 million items, including items in 247 languages, it is the world’s 4th largest library.
3. New York Public Library
Books Collection: 51.3 million
After the world’s only two major largest libraries comes the New York Public library with a collection of 51.3 million items. It is the second largest public library in the United States with 91 branches in total. Founded in 1895, this library is serving people since more than 100 years. The library collection is organized into more than a 100 major topics such as “Women’s Studies”, “Baseball”, “Immigration”, and “Theater”. It is one of the most comprehensive libraries available free of cost for public use and hence, ranks 3rd in this list.
2. British Library
Books Collection: 150 million
Having over 150 million stored items, the British library is the world’s second largest library. It is the national library of United Kingdom, located in London. About 3 million new items are added to its collection every year. An interesting fact is that if you see 5 items every day, it will take you over 80,000 years to see the entire collection. Its treasures include the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, and Beetles’ manuscripts. With over 3000 years old material, 310,000 manuscripts, 260,000 journal titles, and 60 million patents, it ranks 2nd in this list.
1. Library of Congress
Books Collection: 151 million
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with respect to number of stored items and shelf capacity. This largest research library with a collection of more than 151 million items is located in Washington D.C, United States. Its collection includes more than 34.5 million cataloged books (and other print material) available in 470 languages, and more than 66.6 million manuscripts. Also, it has the world’s largest collection of legal material, maps, films, sound recordings, and sheet music. Thus, it ranks first in this list.