Country: United Kingdom
Location: London and Boston Spa
Catalogue Size: 170-200 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.6 million
Budget: £142 million
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and is one of the largest libraries in the world. It is estimated to contain between 170 and 200 million items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The British Library is a major research library, with items in many languages and in many formats, both print and digital: books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings. The Library’s collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and items dating as far back as 2000 BC. The library maintains a programme for content acquisition and adds some three million items each year occupying 9.6 kilometres (6 mi) of new shelf space.
Prior to 1973, the Library was part of the British Museum. The Library is now located in a building purpose-built on the disused site of Midland Railway’s Somers Town Goods Yard and Potato Market, on the north side of Euston Road in Somers Town, London (between Euston railway station and St Pancras railway station), and has an additional storage building and reading room near Boston Spa, near Wetherby in West Yorkshire. The St Pancras building was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 25 June 1998, and is classified as a Grade I listed building “of exceptional interest” for its architecture and history.
Library of Congress
Country: United States
Location: Washington D.C.
Catalogue Size: 170 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.9 million
Budget: US$696.112 million
The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains a conservation center in Culpeper, Virginia. The library’s functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world. Its “collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages.”
Congress moved to Washington, D.C., in 1800 after holding sessions for 11 years in the temporary national capitals in New York City and Philadelphia. In both cities, members of the U.S. Congress had access to the sizable collections of the New York Society Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia. The small Congressional Library was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century until the early 1890s.
Most of the original collection was burnt by the British during the War of 1812, with the library beginning efforts to restore its collection in 1815. The library purchased Thomas Jefferson’s entire personal collection of 6,487 books, and its collection slowly expanded in the following years, although it suffered another fire in its Capitol chambers in 1851. This destroyed a large amount of the collection, including many of Jefferson’s books. After the American Civil War, the importance of the Library of Congress increased with its growth, and there was a campaign to purchase replacement copies for volumes that had been burned. The library received the right of transference of all copyrighted works to deposit two copies of books, maps, illustrations, and diagrams printed in the United States. It also began to build its collections. Its development culminated between 1888 and 1894 with the construction of its own separate, large library building across the street from the Capitol. Two additional buildings have been constructed nearby to hold collections and provide services, one in the 1930s and one in the 1970s.
The library’s primary mission is to research inquiries made by members of Congress, which is carried out through the Congressional Research Service. It also houses and oversees the United States Copyright Office. The library is open to the public for research, although only high-ranking government officials and library employees may check out (i.e., remove from the premises) books and materials.
Catalogue Size: 56 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
The Shanghai Library, which also houses the Shanghai Institute of Scientific and Technological Information, is the municipal library of Shanghai, China. It is the second largest library in China after the National Library in Beijing. At 24 stories and 348 feet (106 m) tall, it is the second tallest library in the world, as well as one of the largest. The building has a tower that looks like a giant lighthouse.
The Library is located at 1557 Huaihai Zhong Lu, Xuhui District, Shanghai.
In 1925, Shanghai East Library, the first library run by Chinese, was opened. In 1950, the Shanghai Cultural Heritage Managing Committee launched a campaign to collect books and after about a year, the collection grew to more than 200,000 volumes. Many scholars and celebrities contributed and some of them made large donations. The committee also started to buy books from abroad. After the mission schools and scientific establishments had been taken over by the Chinese government, the last foreign Jesuits left Xujiahui in 1951. The Xujiahui Library, along with other libraries formerly run by foreign groups, was placed under the control of the Shanghai Municipal Library, which had been established on July 22, 1952. This was the first large municipal public library in Shanghai. Marked the Shanghai library career in the founding of new China has taken a historic step. The library had a collection of more than 700,000 volumes. the Shanghai Municipal Library of Historical Documents(formerly known as Shanghai private Hezhong library founded in 1939 by Jingkui Ye and Yuanji Zhang), The Xujiahui Library (Bibliotheca Zikawei), which reopened in 1977, also became a branch of the Shanghai Library. It was the second largest comprehensive public library in China, in terms of collection, services, and professional expertise. In October 1995, the Shanghai library merged with the Shanghai Institute of science and technology information, and became the first provincial (city) level library and information association.
New York Public Library
Country: United States
Location: New York City
Catalogue Size: 55 million
Visitor Per Year: 18 million
Budget: US$250 million
The New York Public Library (NYPL) is a public library system in New York City. With nearly 53 million items and 92 locations, the New York Public Library is the second largest public library in the United States (behind the Library of Congress) and the fourth largest in the world. It is a private, non-governmental, independently managed, nonprofit corporation operating with both private and public financing.
The library has branches in the boroughs of the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island and affiliations with academic and professional libraries in the New York metropolitan area. The city’s other two boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, are not served by the New York Public Library system, but rather by their respective borough library systems: the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library. The branch libraries are open to the general public and consist of circulating libraries. The New York Public Library also has four research libraries, which are also open to the general public.
The library, officially chartered as The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, was developed in the 19th century, founded from an amalgamation of grass-roots libraries and social libraries of bibliophiles and the wealthy, aided by the philanthropy of the wealthiest Americans of their age.
The “New York Public Library” name may also refer to its Main Branch, which is easily recognizable by its lion statues named Patience and Fortitude that sit either side of the entrance. The branch was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and designated a New York City Landmark in 1967.
Library and Archives Canada
Catalogue Size: 54 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
Budget: C$116.9 million
Library and Archives Canada (LAC; French: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada) is a federal institution tasked with acquiring, preserving, and providing accessibility to the documentary heritage of Canada. It is the fifth largest library in the world.
LAC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, whose incumbent has been Steven Guilbeault since November 20, 2019. Genealogists account for 70% of LAC’s clients.
The Dominion Archives was founded in 1872 as a division within the Department of Agriculture tasked with acquiring and transcribing documents related to Canadian history. In 1912, the division was transformed into an autonomous organization, Public Archives of Canada, with the new responsibility of managing government documents on all types of media. The organization would be renamed in 1987 as the National Archives of Canada.
With the efforts of people like Freda Farrell Waldon, the first president of the Canadian Library Association, the National Library of Canada was founded in 1953.
Russian State Library
Catalogue Size: 47.5 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.12 million
Budget: 2.4 billion RUB
The Russian State Library is the national library of Russia, located in Moscow. It is the largest in the country and the fifth largest in the world for its collection of books (17.5 million). It was named the V. I. Lenin State Library of the USSR from 1925 until it was renamed in 1992 as the Russian State Library.
The library has over 275 km of shelves with more than 43 million items, including over 17 million books and serial volumes, 13 million journals, 350 thousand music scores and sound records, 150,000 maps and others. There are items in 247 languages of the world, the foreign part representing about 29 percent of the entire collection.
Between 1922 and 1991 at least one copy of every book published in the USSR was deposited with the library, a practice which continues in a similar method today, with the library designated by law as a legal deposit library.
National Diet Library
Location: Tokyo and Kyoto
Catalogue Size: 44.1 million
Visitor Per Year: 791,370
Budget: ¥21.8 billion
The National Diet Library (NDL) is the national library of Japan and among the largest libraries in the world. It was established in 1948 for the purpose of assisting members of the National Diet of Japan in researching matters of public policy. The library is similar in purpose and scope to the United States Library of Congress.
The National Diet Library (NDL) consists of two main facilities in Tokyo and Kyoto, and several other branch libraries throughout Japan.
The National Diet Library is the successor of three separate libraries: the library of the House of Peers, the library of the House of Representatives, both of which were established at the creation of Japan’s Imperial Diet in 1890; and the Imperial Library, which had been established in 1872 under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.
The Diet’s power in prewar Japan was limited, and its need for information was “correspondingly small”. The original Diet libraries “never developed either the collections or the services which might have made them vital adjuncts of genuinely responsible legislative activity”. Until Japan’s defeat, moreover, the executive had controlled all political documents, depriving the people and the Diet of access to vital information. The U.S. occupation forces under General Douglas MacArthur deemed reform of the Diet library system to be an important part of the democratization of Japan after its defeat in World War II.
In 1961, the NDL opened at its present location in Nagatachō, adjacent to the National Diet. In 1986, the NDL’s Annex was completed to accommodate a combined total of 12 million books and periodicals. The Kansai-kan (the Kansai Library), which opened in October 2002 in the Kansai Science City (Seika Town, Sōraku County, Kyoto Prefecture), has a collection of 6 million items. In May 2002, the NDL opened a new branch, the International Library of Children’s Literature, in the former building of the Imperial Library in Ueno. This branch contains some 400,000 items of children’s literature from around the world.
Though the NDL’s original mandate was to be a research library for the National Diet, the general public is the largest consumer of the library’s services. In the fiscal year ending March 2004, for example, the library reported more than 250,000 reference inquiries; in contrast, it recorded only 32,000 requests for research from the National Diet.
Royal Danish Library
Location: Copenhagen and Aarhus
Catalogue Size: 42.5 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.45 million
Budget: 523.8 million DKK
Royal Danish Library is a merger of the two previous national libraries in Denmark: the State and University Library in Aarhus and the Royal Library in Copenhagen. Although now under a single organization, the separate locations in both cities are maintained.
The merger came into effect on January 1, 2017.
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Catalogue Size: 40 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.3 million
Budget: €254 million
The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the national library of France, located in Paris. It is the national repository of all that is published in France and also holds extensive historical collections.
On 14 July 1988, President François Mitterrand announced “the construction and the expansion of one of the largest and most modern libraries in the world, intended to cover all fields of knowledge, and designed to be accessible to all, using the most modern data transfer technologies, which could be consulted from a distance, and which would collaborate with other European libraries”. Book and media logistics inside the whole library was planned with an automated 6.6 km (4.1 mi) Telelift system. Only with this high level of automation, the library can comply with all demands fully in time. Due to initial trade union opposition, a wireless network was fully installed only in August 2016.
In July 1989, the services of the architectural firm of Dominique Perrault were retained. The design was recognized with the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 1996. The construction was carried out by Bouygues. Construction of the library ran into huge cost overruns and technical difficulties related to its high-rise design, so much so that it was referred to as the “TGB” or “Très Grande Bibliothèque” (i.e. “Very Large Library”, a sarcastic allusion to France’s successful high-speed rail system, the TGV). After the move of the major collections from the Rue de Richelieu, the National Library of France was inaugurated on 15 December 1996.
As of 2016, the BnF contained roughly 14 million books at its four Parisian sites (Tolbiac, i.e. Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand, and Richelieu, Arsenal and Opéra) as well as printed documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, scores, coins, medals, sound documents, video and multimedia documents, scenery elements…” The library retains the use of the Rue de Richelieu complex for some of its collections.
National Library of China
Catalogue Size: 37.7 million
Visitor Per Year: 5.2 million
The National Library of China or NLC in Beijing is the national library of the People’s Republic of China. With a collection of over 37 million items, it is one of the largest libraries in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It holds the largest collections of Chinese literature and historical documents in the world.
The forerunner of the National Library of China, the Imperial Library of Peking, was founded on 9 September 1909 by the government of the Qing dynasty. It was first formally opened after the Xinhai Revolution, in 1912. In 1916, the library received depository library status. In July 1928, its name was changed to National Peiping Library and was later changed to the National Library.
National Library of Russia
Location: Saint Petersburg
Catalogue Size: 36.5 million
Visitor Per Year: 1 million
The National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg, is not only the oldest public library in the nation, but also the first national library in the country. The NLR is currently ranked among the world’s major libraries. It has the second biggest library collection in the Russian Federation, a treasury of national heritage, and is the All-Russian Information, Research and Cultural Center. Over the course of its history, the Library has aimed for comprehensive acquisition of the national printed output and has provided free access to its collections. It should not be confused with the Russian State Library, located in Moscow.
It is known as the Imperial Public Library from 1795 to 1917; Russian Public Library from 1917 to 1925; State Public Library from 1925 to 1992 (since 1932 named after M.Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin); NLR.
German National Library
Location: Leipzig and Frankfurt
Catalogue Size: 36.1 million
Visitor Per Year: 350,713
Budget: €54.9 million
The German National Library is the central archival library and national bibliographic centre for the Federal Republic of Germany. Its task is to collect, permanently archive, comprehensively document and record bibliographically all German and German-language publications since 1913, foreign publications about Germany, translations of German works, and the works of German-speaking emigrants published abroad between 1933 and 1945, and to make them available to the public. The German National Library maintains co-operative external relations on a national and international level. For example, it is the leading partner in developing and maintaining bibliographic rules and standards in Germany and plays a significant role in the development of international library standards. The cooperation with publishers has been regulated by law since 1935 for the Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig and since 1969 for the Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt.
Duties are shared between the facilities in Leipzig and Frankfurt, with each center focusing its work in specific specialty areas. A third facility has been the Deutsches Musikarchiv Berlin (founded 1970), which deals with all music-related archiving (both printed and recorded materials). Since 2010 the Deutsches Musikarchiv is also located in Leipzig as an integral part of the facility there.
Biblioteca Nacional de España
Catalogue Size: 33.1 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
Budget: €29.2 million
The Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain) is a major public library, the largest in Spain, and one of the largest in the world. It is located in Madrid, on the Paseo de Recoletos.
The library was founded by King Philip V in 1712 as the Palace Public Library (Biblioteca Pública de Palacio). The Royal Letters Patent that he granted, the predecessor of the current legal deposit requirement, made it mandatory for printers to submit a copy of every book printed in Spain to the library. In 1836, the library’s status as Crown property was revoked and ownership was transferred to the Ministry of Governance (Ministerio de la Gobernación). At the same time, it was renamed the Biblioteca Nacional.
During the 19th century, confiscations, purchases and donations enabled the Biblioteca Nacional to acquire the majority of the antique and valuable books that it currently holds. In 1892 the building was used to host the Historical American Exposition. On 16 March 1896, the Biblioteca Nacional opened to the public in the same building in which it is currently housed and included a vast Reading Room on the main floor designed to hold 320 readers. In 1931 the Reading Room was reorganised, providing it with a major collection of reference works, and the General Reading Room was created to cater for students, workers and general readers.
During the Spanish Civil War close to 500,000 volumes were collected by the Confiscation Committee (Junta de Incautación) and stored in the Biblioteca Nacional to safeguard works of art and books held until then in religious establishments, palaces and private houses. During the 20th century numerous modifications were made to the building to adapt its rooms and repositories to its constantly expanding collections, to the growing volume of material received following the modification to the Legal Deposit requirement in 1958, and to the numerous works purchased by the library. Among this building work, some of the most noteworthy changes were the alterations made in 1955 to triple the capacity of the library’s repositories, and those started in 1986 and completed in 2000, which led to the creation of the new building in Alcalá de Henares and complete remodelling of the building on Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid.
In 1986, when Spain’s main bibliographic institutions – the National Newspaper Library (Hemeroteca Nacional), the Spanish Bibliographic Institute (Instituto Bibliográfico Hispánico) and the Centre for Documentary and Bibliographic Treasures (Centro del Tesoro Documental y Bibliográfico) – were incorporated into the Biblioteca Nacional, the library was established as the State Repository of Spain’s Cultural Memory (Centro Estatal Depositario de la Memoria Cultural Española), making all of Spain’s bibliographic output on any media available to the Spanish Library System and national and international researchers and cultural and educational institutions. In 1990 it was made an Autonomous Entity attached to the Ministry of Culture (Ministerio de Cultura).
The Madrid premises are shared with the National Archaeological Museum.
Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Location: Saint Petersburg
Catalogue Size: 26.5 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
The Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a large state-owned Russian library based in Saint Petersburg on Vasilievsky Island and open to employees of institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences and scholars with higher education. It is a part of the academy and includes, besides the central collection, the library collections housed by specialized academic institutions in Saint Petersburg and other cities.
The library was founded in Saint Petersburg by a decree of Peter I in 1714 and subsequently included into the structure of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Since 1747 all academic institutions and since 1783 all publishers in the country have been legally obliged to provide the library with a free copy of each published item.
In 1728-1924 its collections were stored in the building of Kunstkamera, with which it had formed a single academic institution until 1803. In the 1920s the library received many items confiscated during nationalization in Soviet Russia.
In 1924-1925 the collections were transferred to the new building built for the library in 1914 and occupied by a military hospital during the First World War.
During the siege of Leningrad in 1941-1944 the collections stayed in the besieged city and the library was open.
On February 15, 1988, the library suffered the most catastrophic fire in its history which destroyed or damaged a considerable part of the collections,it had destroyed 298.000 books of the total 12 million housed,two to three million more were damaged by heat and smoke. 734,465 copies volumes initially became damp due to firefighting foam. Many of the lost volumes were part of the Baer Collection of foreign scientific works: 152.000 were lost. The rest 146.000 were Russian books, many of them early scientific and medical books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The damp books damaged by fire extinguishment were initially frozen. Then a radio appeal was broadcast for citizens to dry the damp books in their homes. By late March 1988 93% of the damp books had been dried in that way and returned to the library. However, about 10,000 books became moldy.
The lost fund was partially restored,large batches of books and individual rare editions came from more than 760 domestic libraries to replenish the lost funds.
In a 2018 article on the web site “Siberian scientific news” it says that the fire destroyed 298 061 copy of monographs and periodicals;146,716 books in Russian;152,245 copies of foreign publications before 1930, arranged according to the classification system of academician Karl Baer (including the legendary Baer fund – about 62 thousand folios).The lost fund was replenish with 222,336 copies from 764 institutions were accepted for the restoration of funds. The loss of 62% of domestic books and 8% of publications from the Baer collection has been replenished. Also destroyed were 20,640 binders, or one third of the newspaper stock,this fund was also partially restored.
Other sources say that 45% of the burned books in Russian and 13% in foreign were recovered.
Before the fire, as of October 1, 1986, the collection of the library and libraries subordinate to it consisted of 17,288,365 items.
Berlin State Library
Catalogue Size: 23.4 million
Visitor Per Year: 1.4 million
The Berlin State Library is a universal library in Berlin, Germany and a property of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. It is one of the largest libraries in Europe, and one of the most important academic research libraries in the German-speaking world. It collects texts, media and cultural works from all fields in all languages, from all time periods and all countries of the world, which are of interest for academic and research purposes. Some famous items in its collection include the oldest biblical illustrations in the fifth-century Quedlinburg Itala fragment, a Gutenberg Bible, the main autograph collection of Goethe, the world’s largest collection of Johann Sebastian Bach’s and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s manuscripts, and the original score of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
The SBB is one of six libraries forming the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke (AG SDD) which “collaborate to build a comprehensive collection of printed literature published in German-speaking countries from the beginning of letterpress printing to the present, to provide information on it, to make it accessible to the public and to preserve it for future generations.” This creates a virtual or distributed national library, in which each library is responsible for a given period, of which the SBB covers 1871–1912 for regular prints, 1801–1912 for maps and newspapers, and 1801–1945 for musical scores.
Within the cooperation of German and Austrian libraries, the SBB is responsible “for the maintenance and further development of the ZDB”, the central periodicals database. “The ZDB actually contains more than 1.8 million bibliographic records of serials from the 16th century onward, from all countries, in all languages, held in 3.700 German and Austrian libraries, with 15.6 million holdings information. It does not contain contents, i. e. journal articles.”
The SBB is one of 12 libraries and archives with significant holdings of historical documents which form the DE:Allianz Schriftliches Kulturgut Erhalten — Alliance to Preserve Written Cultural Heritage. This alliance sets itself as main task raising the consciousness of the importance to preserve the century-old cultural heritage both by securing the physical integrity of the objects in question as well as making them available in digitized form, thus preventing their deterioration by use.
The SBB itself is digitizing their holdings and offers digitized newspapers for public access via the Web in their “newspaper information system” ZEFYS or Zeitungsinformationssystem. ZEFYS “currently provides total of 281.990 issues from 192 historical newspapers from Germany and foreign newspapers in german.”
Boston Public Library
Country: United States
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Catalogue Size: 22.4 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
Budget: US$38.9 million
The Boston Public Library is a municipal public library system in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, founded in 1848. The Boston Public Library is also the Library for the Commonwealth (formerly library of last recourse) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; all adult residents of the commonwealth are entitled to borrowing and research privileges, and the library receives state funding. The Boston Public Library contains approximately 24 million volumes, and electronic resources, making it the third-largest public library in the United States behind the federal Library of Congress and the New York Public Library, which is also privately endowed. In fiscal year 2014, the library held more than 10,000 programs, all free to the public, and lent 3.7 million materials.
This building was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 2000.
Included in the BPL’s research collection are more than 1.7 million rare books and manuscripts. It possesses wide-ranging and important holdings, including medieval manuscripts and incunabula, early editions of William Shakespeare (among which are a number of Shakespeare quartos and the First Folio), the George Ticknor collection of Spanish literature, a major collection of Daniel Defoe, records of colonial Boston, the personal 3,800 volume library of John Adams, the mathematical and astronomical library of Nathaniel Bowditch, important manuscript archives on abolitionism, including the papers of William Lloyd Garrison, and a major collection of materials on the Sacco and Vanzetti case. There are large collections of prints, photographs, postcards, and maps. The library, for example, holds one of the major collections of watercolors and drawings by Thomas Rowlandson. The library has a special strength in music, and holds the archives of the Handel and Haydn Society, scores from the estate of Serge Koussevitzky, and the papers of and grand piano belonging to the important American composer Walter Piston.
For all these reasons, the historian David McCullough has described the Boston Public Library as one of the five most important libraries in the United States, the others being the federal Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the university libraries of Harvard and Yale.
New York State Library
Country: United States
Location: Albany, New York
Catalogue Size: 20 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
The New York State Library is a research library in Albany, New York, United States. It was established in 1818 to serve the state government of New York and is part of the New York State Education Department. The library is one of the largest in the world by number of items held, with over 20 million cataloged items in 2011.
The library and its sister institutions, the New York State Museum and New York State Archives, are housed in the Cultural Education Center, which is part of the Empire State Plaza, a large complex of state government offices in downtown Albany.
The New York State Library was formerly located in the New York State Capitol and then across Washington Avenue in the New York State Education Building. An annex containing books, journals, and newspapers is still located in the basement of the Education Building. The library undertook an effort to discard some of these items in 2014.
Country: United States
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Catalogue Size: 18.9 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
The Harvard Library is the umbrella organization for the Harvard University libraries and their shared services, such as access, preservation, digital infrastructure, digital imaging, and discovery services. The Harvard Library is nearly 400 years old, making it the oldest library system in the United States. Additionally, the Harvard Library is the largest private library system and largest academic library in the world. Its collection holds nearly 20 million volumes, 400 million manuscripts, 10 million photographs, and one million maps.
Harvard Library holds the third largest collection in the United States, after the Library of Congress and Boston Public Library. Based on the number of items held, it is the fifth largest library in the United States. Additionally, Harvard is part of the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP) along with Columbia Libraries, Princeton University Library and New York Public Library, and the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation, making over 90 million books available to the library’s users.
The library is open to current Harvard affiliates, and some events and spaces are open to the public. The most recognized building in the Harvard system is Widener Library, situated in Harvard Yard.
National Library of Sweden
Catalogue Size: 18 million
Visitor Per Year: Unknown
Budget: 364.5 million SEK
The National Library of Sweden is Sweden’s national library. As such it collects and preserves all domestic printed and audio-visual materials in Swedish, as well as content with Swedish association published abroad. Being a research library, it also has major collections of literature in other languages.
The collections of the National Library consist of more than 18 million objects, including books, posters, pictures, manuscripts, and newspapers. The audio-visual collection consists of more than 7 million hours of recorded material.
The National Library is also a humanities research library, with collections of foreign literature in a wide range of subjects. The library holds a collection of 850 broadsides of Sweden dating from 1852.
The National Library also purchases literature about Sweden written in foreign languages and works by Swedes published abroad, a category known as suecana. The National Library has been collecting floppy disks, CR-ROMs, and other electronic storage media since the mid-1990s, along with e-books, e-journals, websites, and other digital material.
In 1953, the National Library purchased considerable amounts of Russian literature from Leningrad and Moscow. These books were to form the basis of a Slavonic library in Stockholm. These plans were consolidated in an agreement made in 1964 between the Lenin Library in Moscow and the National Library in which the respective libraries agreed to exchange their countries’ literature.
Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine
Catalogue Size: 15.5 million
Visitor Per Year: 500,000
Budget: 50.3 million ₴
Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, VNLU (Ukrainian: Національна бібліотека України імені В.І. Вернадського) is the main academic library and main scientific information centre in Ukraine, one of the world’s largest (top twenty) national libraries. Its main building is located in the capital of the country – Kyiv, Demiivka neighborhood.
The library contains about 15 million items. The library has the most complete collection of Slavic writing, archives of outstanding world and Ukrainian scientists and cultural persons. The holdings include the collection of the Presidents of Ukraine, archive copies of Ukrainian printed documents from 1917, and archives of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine was established on 2 August 1918 by Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi as the “National Library of the Ukrainian State” (Natsionalna biblioteka Ukrayinskoyi Derzhavy). On 23 August 1918 there was established the Provisional Committee on creation of the National Library headed by Vladimir Vernadsky (Volodymyr Vernadsky).
In August 1941 the library was evacuated to Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, where it was housed in the State pedagogical institute. In May 1944 the library returned to Kyiv.
The current building was constructed between 1975 and 1989. It has 27 floors and an area of 35,700 m². Its roof reaches 76.7 m and its antenna 78.6 m above ground.
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