Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Largest Library In The World

Library of Congress
This week I've been adding books to my reminder list on the local library's website and caught myself marveling at how many books they have. Judging by the list that just kept growing I won't need to buy books for years if I don't want to (but of course I will want to). So when today rolled around it was only natural to wonder what is the largest library in the world and where it is located. Trusting the internet to satisfy my curiosity I did a quick search and discovered something interesting: there are two libraries in the running for the title. One is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and another is the British Library in London, England. But which one is the true largest library?

British Library
Both claims are accurate, just in different ways. The Library of Congress is the largest in terms of shelf space with about 530 miles (850 km), while the BL's shelves run only about 388 miles (625 km). The British Library boasts a larger collection with over 150 million items, while The Library of Congress currently has over 140 million items in its catalogue. But we mainly care about books, right? According to the LOC website the library currently has 33 million books and other print materials. The BL website didn't have a figure for how many actual books they have but I have found a figure of 29 million elsewhere online. With two out of three looks like the Library of Congress is the winner!

For those curious enough to want to find out more about these two great libraries here are some links:
The official website of the Library of Congress
The LOC Wikipedia page
The official website of the British Library
The BL Wikipedia page

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