The Largest Libraries In The World

The Russian State Library is the fifth largest library in the world. Editorial credit: dimbar76 /
The Russian State Library is the fifth largest library in the world. Editorial credit: dimbar76 /

5. Russian State Library - 44.4 million items

The Russian State Library is the fifth largest library in the world. In this library, at least one copy of every Russian publication is stored. Today, the library houses 17 million books as well as 13 million journals, 150,000 maps, and thousands of musical records and scores. This huge collection of literary and musical work is neatly stored in storage shelves that covers a total distance of 275 kilometers in the library. The Russian State Library is located in the capital city of the country, Moscow and is freely accessible to the public of the country. It was founded on July 1st, 1862.

4. Library and Archives, Canada - 54 million items

Canada is home to the world's fourth largest library, the Library and Archives of Canada, which is maintained directly by the federal government of the country. The institution is assigned the immense task of preserving Canada’s heritage documentaries and making it available to the people of the country. The current collection includes nearly 20 million books, 24 million photographs, private and government archives, aboriginal magazines, non-fiction and fiction films, Canadian periodicals, and more. Some of the most prized items of the library include the proclamation of the Canadian Constitution Act, a 1st Century book by historian Flavius Josephus, a chair belonging to Glenn Gould, and the British North America Act. The Library and Archives of Canada was formed in 2004 by the amalgamation of the functions performed by the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada and reports directly to the Parliament of the country.

3. New York Public Library - 55 million items

The system of libraries in New York, the New York Public Library, is world famous for its extensive collection of 55 million items including books, periodicals, musical records and other publications and albums. The amalgamation of small and large libraries including libraries of book lovers and wealthy millionaires of New York resulted in the creation of this large network of libraries which are currently funded by both government and private institutions. The main branch of the library is located on Fifth Avenue in New York at the intersection with 42nd Street. In 1965, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today, the New York Public Library library has 4 research libraries, branch libraries in Bronx, State Island and Manhattan and several smaller libraries affiliated to it.

2. British Library - 150 million items

The British Library is the world’s second largest library, and can proudly boast of its collection of 150 million books, manuscripts, magazines, music recordings and scores, patents, databases and much more. The library is the national library of the United Kingdom and is located in the capital of England, between the Euston and St. Pacras railway stations in London. The library was established by the British Library Act 1972 as an independent entity on July 1st, 1973. Some of the notable collections of this library include the Diamond Sutra, the earliest printed publication of the world, a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci, Codez Arundel, Gutenberg Bibles, and Lewis Carroll’s famous manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground.

1. Library of the U.S. Congress - 164 million items

The Library of the U.S. Congress is the largest library in the United States as well as the largest library in the world. The library is a federal institution in Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. with a separate campus, the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Virginia. The library houses research material from all parts of the world. 450 languages of the world are represented in the Library of U.S. Congress. The library was established in Washington, D.C. in 1800, and witnessed several periods of damage and destruction including the ravages created by the British in 1814 during the War of 1812 and a raging fire in 1851. It grew and expanded after the American Civil War, and started accumulating literature and important publications from all across the world. Today, though the library is open to the public for touring, only high profile government officials can access its books and materials. Several projects are undertaken by the library to promote American literature and arts.

The World's Biggest Libraries

RankLibrary NameLocationNumber of Items in Catalogue (Millions)
1Library of CongressWashington, D.C., United States164
2British LibraryLondon and Boston Spa, United Kingdom150
3New York Public LibraryNew York, United States55
4Library and Archives CanadaOttawa, Canada54
5Russian State LibraryMoscow, Russia44.4
6National Diet LibraryTokyo and Kyoto, Japan 41.88
7Bibliotheque Nationale de FranceParis, France40
8National Library of RussiaSaint Petersburg, Russia36.5
9National Library of ChinaBeijing, China36.4
10Royal Danish LibraryCopenhagen, Denmark35.4
11Biblioteca Nacional de EspanaMadrid, Spain33.1
12German National LibraryLeipzig and Frankfurt, Germany32.7
13Library of the Russian Academy of SciencesSaint Petersburg, Russia26.5
14Berlin State LibraryBerlin, Germany23.4
15Boston Public LibraryBoston, United States22.4

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