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Biggest Library in the World, List of Top-10

Libraries, revered as timeless bastions of knowledge, have stood as formidable institutions for millennia. Across the annals of history, these institutions have amassed vast collections comprising books, government documents, and various media forms. Presently, the libraries listed here boast some of the most extensive collections globally, surpassing others in sheer volume and diversity.

World’s Biggest Library 2023

Library of Congress: Reigning as the largest library globally in 2023, the Library of Congress boasts a colossal catalog, exceeding 160 million items, accompanied by an impressive annual budget exceeding US$600 million. It serves as the designated repository for the United States Congress, fulfilling its official role, but also extends access to academic researchers holding a Reader Identification Card, albeit with the restriction that materials can only be utilized on-site.

Key Facts Related to Biggest Library in the World

  • Architectural Marvels: The Library of Congress features three stunning buildings on the Capitol grounds—the Thomas Jefferson Building (1897), the John Adams Building (1938), and the James Madison Memorial Building (1981).
  • Historical Resilience: Established in 1800, the library withstood British torching in 1814 and rebounded by acquiring Thomas Jefferson’s private collection of 6,487 books.
  • Global Influence: While serving the U.S. Congress, the Library of Congress has global impact, allowing U.S. libraries to borrow items through interlibrary loans (restricted to the borrowing library).
  • Cultural Treasures: Housing the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and one of three pristine vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible made from animal skin.
  • Technological Facilitation: A key global source for high-quality MARC records through Z39.50, aiding libraries worldwide with essential data for their collections.
  • Visitor Experience: Open to the public, the Library of Congress offers free guided tours, providing an immersive exploration of human knowledge for visitors exploring Washington D.C.

Biggest Libraries in the World, List of Top-10

Library of Congress, located in Washington, D.C., USA, holds the title of the biggest library in the world, followed by British Library, New York Public Library, Library and Archives Canada and Shanghai Library.

Here is the list of top-10 biggest libraries in the world:

Biggest Libraries in the World
Rank Library No. of Items in Catalogue Location Year Opened
1. Library of Congress 167 million+ Washington, D.C., USA 1800
2. British Library 150 million+ London, England, United England 1973
3. New York Public Library 55 million+ New York City, New York, USA 1911
4. Library and Archives Canada 54 million+ Ottawa, Canada 2004
5. Shanghai Library 50 million+ Shanghai, China 1952
6. Russian State Library 47 million+ Moscow, Russia 1862
7. National Diet Library 41.8 million+ Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan 1948
8. Bibliotheque nationale de France 40 million+ Paris, France 14th century
9. National Library of Russia 37.89 million+ Saint Petersburg, Russia 1795
10. National Library of China 37.68 million+ Beijing, China 1909

Biggest Library of the World – Library of Congress

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Location: Washington, D.C., USA

Number of Items in Catalogue: 167 million+

Visitors Per Year: about 1.9 million

Year Opened: April 24, 1800

The Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, houses a staggering 167 million items, including 39 million books, 3.6 million recordings, 14.8 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 8.1 million pieces of sheet music, and 72 million manuscripts. Serving as the U.S. national library, it’s a vital research hub and copyright registration center, processing over 450,000 claims in 2017.

World’s Second Largest Library – British Library

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Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Number of Items in Catalogue: 150 million+

Visitors Per Year: 1.48 million

Year Opened: July 1, 1973

The British Library in London stands as the second largest library globally, rivaled only by the Library of Congress. Boasting a vast collection exceeding 150 million items, with an annual addition of 3 million new items, it’s a monumental institution housed in the largest public building constructed in 20th-century United Kingdom, spanning 12,000 square meters.

Biggest Library in the World – New York Public Library

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Location: New York City, New York, USA

Number of Items in Catalogue: 55 million+

Visitors Per Year: 17.3 million

Year Opened: May 23, 1911

Ranked as the third largest globally, the New York Public Library boasts a collection exceeding 55 million books and research materials. While smaller than the British Library and Library of Congress, it attracts a remarkable 17 million annual visitors, nearly eight times more than its larger counterparts. Comprising 92 locations across New York City and its environs, including The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, it stands as a widely accessible cultural and educational resource.

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FAQs

Which is the biggest library in the world?

Library of Congress, located in Washington, D.C., USA, holds the title of the biggest library in the world.

Which is the Asia's biggest library?

The National Library of China is the largest library in Asia, boasting a collection of over 33.78 million items.

Which is the second largest library in the world?

The British Library in London stands as the second largest library globally, rivaled only by the Library of Congress.

Which is the biggest library in India?

The National Library of India is a library located in Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata, India. It is India's largest library by volume and public record.

Name the top-5 biggest libraries in the world.

The top-5 biggest libraries in the world are: Library of Congress, British Library, New York Public Library, Library and Archives Canada and Shanghai Library.