Wednesday, June 4, 2008

World's 10 Biggest Public Libraries

Whether you've got a research paper due on the Monte Carlo algorithms used to model molecular behavior in cellular microphysiology, a literary penchant for 17th-century Persian poets, or you're simply looking for something to read that no one else has ever heard of - when your thirst for obscure literature can't be quenched by your local library and when your need for highly specialized research extends beyond your campus library's standard collection, it may be time to explore the miles of book-lined halls and Dewey Decimal catalogues in one of the world's largest libraries.



1) The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)

Boasting a collection of over 32 million books, recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts in more than 460 languages, the Library of Congress sits on Capitol Hill like a castle, daring bookworms from all walks of life to find a more complete collection anywhere else on earth. The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and the largest library in the world, comprised of three buildings and so massive that you couldn't possibly expect to see all it has to offer in a single day.

2) Harvard University Library (Cambridge, Mass.)

The Harvard University Library is made up of over 80 individual libraries, from the specialized Oakes Ames Orchid Library to the renowned Loeb Music Library, and houses nearly 16 million printed materials. Not on campus or in Cambridge? Go ahead and feel like a Harvard student anyway - much of the Harvard Library collection is stored online for easy browsing and review.

3) Boston Public Library (Boston, Mass.)

With 27 neighborhood branches and a central library that takes up two buildings, the Boston Public Library system is one of the largest public library networks in the country - the perfect fit for a city known for being saturated with college students. The Boston Public Library hosts more than 50 programs each week and over 150 exhibits every year, giving Bostonians a student-friendly destination with an ever-changing slate of things to do.

4) The British Library (London, England)

Home to over 13 million books, 920,000 newspaper and journal titles, 3 million audio recordings, and 57 million patents, the British Library of London is an intellectual powerhouse of knowledge, one of the largest libraries not only in Europe, but in the world.

5) Yale University Library (New Haven, Conn.)

Housed in 22 buildings tended to by a staff of nearly 600, the Yale University Library collection numbers around 13 million volumes and works, from electronic databases to ancient papyrus scrolls inscribed with some of earliest writings of the world. The library's venerable special collections include the Yale Center for British Art, the most comprehensive collection of English paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, and rare books outside of Great Britain, and the Yale Babylonian Collection, the largest gathering of ancient cuneiform tablets in the country and one of the five largest in the world.

6) New York Public Library (New York, N.Y.)

First established in 1884, the New York Public Library system has grown to encompass four research libraries, five central libraries, and 83 branch libraries - one of the world's largest branch systems - with nearly 3 million library cardholders and more than 16 million visitors a year. Together, the New York public libraries hold over 20 million books and close to 31 million items in other categories, including audio recordings, films, videotapes, sheet music, maps, pictures, prints, clippings, and materials for the blind - all in dozens of languages. The library continues to expand its already vast collections at the rate of about 10,000 items a week.

7) Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine (Kiev)

The Vernadsky National Library's collection of over 15 million items is overseen by a staff of 900 and includes the archives of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, a preeminent repository of early Jewish folk music, and one of the world's most complete collections of Slavic writing. As a United Nations depository since 1964, the Vernadsky Library receives copies of all U.N. publications issued in English and Russian. The library also holds copies of all Ukrainian publications printed since 1917, as well as all Ukrainian doctoral theses, and it exchanges materials with more than 1,500 research and academic institutions and libraries in 80 countries.

8) Deutsche Bibliothek (Berlin, Frankfurt, and Leipzig, Germany)

The national library of Germany, the Deutsche Bibliothek represents the merger of the national libraries in Leipzig and Frankfurt - what had been the national libraries of East and West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall - along with the inclusion of the German Music Archive (the Deutsche Musikarchiv) in Berlin. The Deutsche Bibliothek is responsible for issuing the national bibliography and holds a combined collection of over 13 million items, including copies of all books published in Germany, an array of German books published internationally, translations of German books, literature on Germany, and a special collection of works written and published by German exiles between 1933 and 1945.

9) Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

The mission of Library and Archives Canada is to document and preserve all aspects of Canada's heritage and "to be a source of enduring knowledge" accessible to all Canadians. The LAC collection spans the entire history of Canada and comprises materials in all forms of media from throughout the country, including government records, coats of arms, the Canadian Postal Archives, periodicals ranging from student newspapers to Aboriginal magazines, architectural drawings and maps dating back to the beginning of the 16th century, nearly 350,000 works of art, more than 21.3 million photographic images captured since the 1850s, over 71,000 hours of short and full-length films and documentaries dating as far back as 1897, roughly 3.18 million megabytes of information in electronic format, and the largest collection of Canadian sheet music in the world.

10) National Library of China (Beijing)

Housing more than 24 million items in over 1.8 million square feet of space, the National Library of China maintains not only the most comprehensive collection of Chinese literature in the world, but the largest assemblage of foreign-language materials in the country. The library's collection includes 270,000 volumes designated as "rare books," 1.6 million works of ancient literature, and 35,000 pieces of scripted turtle shells and animals bones.


Brian M Logan

Never miss out on a great article or blog post by joining the 'Blog Up-Date Notification List' by sending an email with the word SUBSCRIBE in the 'comments' field!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home