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Search LibrarySpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | Did you know?  
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World's Largest Libraries

There are a number of institutions around the world that transcend the standard definition of library. From the U.S. Library of Congress to the Bibliotheque nationale de France, these bastions of words, sounds, images and ideas provide the intellectual foundation of modern society.

The American Library Association's list of the Nation's Largest Libraries outlines institutions with the most volumes, including the Library of Congress (30,011,748 volumes), Harvard University (15,555,533) and the Boston Public Library (15,458,022).

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. turns 200 this year. Begun with fewer than 1,000 books, the library now holds 115 million items in a number of formats. "America's oldest national cultural center," the library is one of the largest repositories of recorded knowledge in the world. Established as a legislative library, it now serves as the copyright agency of the United States and the research arm of the U.S. Congress. With a staff of nearly 3,000 and an annual appropriation of more than $300 million, the library is truly a wondrous monument. Online, you'll find congressional records, committee information, legislative information and special exhibits.

The New York Public Library consists of 4 research centers and 85 branch libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. With more materials than any other public library in the nation, it is the largest research library with a circulating system in the world. Established in 1895, the NYPL's collection has grown to more than 52 million items and serves millions of users.




The British Library is the United Kingdom's national library. Based in London and Yorkshire, it holds more than 62 million items, including prized manuscripts, rare maps and thousands of precious documents. Some documents are viewable online.

If you speak French, the Bibliotheque nationale de France's home page offers a number of services. For those confined to English, there is an alternate page with limited information.

IFLANET, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, lists National Libraries of the World. To look up libraries by type and geographical location, try LibDex.




   --- A.L.

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