If you’re a big reader, then you may sometimes get the feeling that your own bookshelf does not hold enough space for you to keep all the books you want. Or, you may feel like you never own enough books, or even your own community’s public libraries do not hold enough books and reading materials to really fulfill your bookworm desires. Well, look no further! If you’ve ever wondered the ideal reading destinations to hideaway and gain access to some of the most desired books, manuscripts, and literary artifacts in the world, Bookstr provides for you ten of the largest library collections in the world!
10. National Library of China- Beijing, China
The National Library of China contains over 37.7 million items total, and is managed by 1.5 thousand staff members! In this library, readers will find a rich diversity of history and literature from China’s ancient dynasties, including the Southern Song Dynasty from the 13th century to collections of Ming and Qing dynasties of the 17th centuries. You’ll find works of writing from thousands of years ago in a variety of languages and formats.
This library contains four different complexes to find information and reading material. The best part: the National Library of China is a public library, meaning that these manuscripts and sources of information are accessible for the public!
9. National Library of France- Paris, France
With over 40 million items, both digital and physical, the National Library of France acquires approximately 1.5 million visitors per year! The building itself is pretty historical, traced to the 14th century as a library for French monarchs and royalty, before being open to the public by the 17th century! As a prominent building of French history, the library also contains an extensive amount of manuscripts and historical collections, containing all that is published in France.
During the French Revolution, the Library faced risk and threat of destruction of its material, but luckily did not face any loss, and thank goodness for that considering it is now one of the world’s largest libraries!
8. Royal Library– Copenhagen, Denmark
As the largest library of all the Nordic countries, the Royal Library belongs to the University of Copenhagen, with over 42.5 physical items, not including digital! The library contains a variety of historical documents and a copy of all of Denmark’s printed works since the 1600s! You can also find an extensive collection of donations and the library’s five different sites.
Its large array of reading material, manuscripts, and artifacts, however, are only open to people over 18 with specific cases to access its reading material and including rules regarding use and access to its valuables.
7. National Diet Library- Tokyo, Japan
Built in 1948, the National Diet Library contains over 44.1 million items, with research materials for Japan’s National Diet. Think of the United States Library of Congress! The country’s national library has two different main facilities in Kyoto and Tokyo, but also contains multiple different branches throughout Japan. It holds copies of every publication published in Japan, and includes extensive collections focused on a variety of subjects and languages. The Diet Library system is deemed an important aspect of Japan’s democratization after the Second World War.
6. Russian State Library- Moscow, Russia
The Russian State Library is Russia’s largest library, with over 47.5 million items! The library is lawfully considered a legal deposit library, with copies of every published book of the USSR. Built in the 1860s, the Library underwent multiple name changes. It was originally recognized as Moscow’s first free public library, The Library of the Moscow Public Museum and Rumiantsev Museum, or if you want less of a mouthful: The Rumiantsev Library, or better known by its nickname- Leninka. From 1925, we recognized it as the V.I. Lenin State Library of the USSR, but it did not become the Russian State Library until 1992 by president Boris Yeltsin!
5. Library and Archives Canada- Ottawa, Canada
The Library and Archives Canada is also known as the LAC, with over 54 million times as a Canadian federal institution with the responsibility to preserve and provide accessibility to the country’s documentary heritage! It is a generally new institution, established less than 20 years ago in 2004, but it contains over a petabyte worth of digital information and materials! Since its creation, the LAC’s established purpose is to preserve Canada’s documentary heritage for current and future generations as a source of accessible knowledge for the public, and also to continue the Canadian government’s memory.
4. New York Public Library- New York, United States
The New York Public Library, founded in 1895, contains over 55 million items as a non-profit private institution that thrives off private and public funding! The library was originally founded by a group of book-loving philanthropists who wanted to contribute to literacy and knowledge for their era. Thanks to them, we now have one of the largest libraries in the world! When we think of the New York Public Library, we consider its Main Branch (the one you see with the two lion status, Patience and Fortitude, at the front!) which is considered not only a New York City Landmark, but also a National Historic Landmark!
The NYPL contains multiple branches throughout the state of New York, including the Bronx, Manhatten, and Staten Island, and its contributions to academic institutions throughout the state!
3. Shanghai Library- Shanghai, China
The Shanghai Library has been around for a while, established as the Bibliotheca-Ka-Wei in 1847 which is today part of the larger Shanghai Library system, containing over 56 million items! Not only is the Shanghai Library one of the top three largest libraries in the world by possession, it is also the second tallest, at over 24 stories! The institution acquired its large volume of reading materials and manuscripts from scholarly donations during the 20th century, as well as through funding to acquire materials abroad. It is the municipal library of Shanghai, China, and also contains the Shanghai Institute of Scientific and Technological Information!
2. Library of Congress- Washington DC, USA
Founded over 200 years ago, the Library of Congress now has over 170 million items total as the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States! The library has three separate buildings in Washington D.C., and also in Virginia, containing over 470 languages in all its materials. But did you know the library used to contain a lot more? Most of its original collection of books and materials were destroyed in a fire by the British during the War of 1812, and could be rebuilt thanks to buying Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection. The library apparently is prone to fires, since it burnt again in 1851, but donations and funds helped keep the library collection growing to be one of the largest library collections in the world!
Although the library is public and open for research, the only people that can check out materials and carry them outside of the premises are high-ranking government officials and employees of the institution.
1. British Library – London, United Kingdom
The largest library collection in the world is the British Library in London, with a range from 170 to 200 million items! Recognized for its history and architecture, it contains copies of every book produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, in multiple languages and formats in print and digital. Before its establishment as the British Library, this collection of materials and books was a part of the British Museum until 1973. The Library is recognized as a research library, so it also contains scripts, databases, maps, and more in addition to its extensive book collection. Every year, another 3 million or so reading materials are added into the British Library!