10 largest libraries in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Before digital devices were invented, people got the information they needed for centuries from libraries. With the massive spread of the Internet, they have become not so popular, because now almost any information can be found online. Nevertheless, large libraries of national importance have not completely lost their relevance. They are a testament to the rich cultural component of the country, many book lovers come to libraries to see the first editions of world famous works with their own eyes. In this case, libraries play the role of a kind of museums. In addition, printed encyclopedias, reference books, textbooks and similar books serve as a standard of knowledge when there is a doubt about which of the huge number of sources of information on the Internet is worth trusting. Well, it is worth remembering that not all publications in the world have been digitized, and if you need to find some really rare and important knowledge, you should go to the library.

There are almost 570 thousand libraries on the planet, and hundreds of them are unique to one degree or another. Our today's selection includes the ten largest, striking in their enormous size and the number of publications stored in them.

The largest libraries in the world

Nomination a place name Number of books
The largest libraries in the world 10 National Library of France 15 million
9 National Library of China 31 MILLION
8 Royal Library of Denmark 33 MILLION
7 National Parliamentary Library of Japan 36 MILLION
6 National Library of Russia 38 MILLION
5 Russian State Library 47 MILLION
4 Library and Archives of Canada 48 MILLION
3 New York Public Library 53 MILLION
2 British library 150 MILLION
1 Library of Congress 168 MILLION

National Library of France

Rating: 4.1

National Library of France

One of the oldest European libraries, it was founded in the XIV century by King Charles V the Wise. Even then, the collection consisted of more than 1200 manuscripts. At the beginning of the 17th century, the first library catalog was created, and after the French Revolution it was nationalized. Since 1988, at the initiative of President François Mitterrand, the library has been moved to new high-rise buildings located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Now her fund has approximately 14 million books. In addition, it contains about 250 thousand valuable manuscripts, as well as a large number of photographs and engravings. Attendance is over 1.3 million people a year. The National Library serves Parisians not only for reading, but also as a center for exhibitions, conferences and other cultural events. She also supports a research project to develop machine translation and speech recognition.

The new library complex consists of four 79-meter-high buildings, shaped like open books. These modern 18-storey buildings were designed by French eco-tech architect Dominique Perrault. In addition to the towers on the banks of the Seine, the National Library of France includes a historic building on Rue Richelieu, which is undergoing renovation until 2020.

National Library of China

Rating: 4.2

National Library of China

The National Library of China began its existence at the beginning of the 20th century, it was founded on the initiative of the rulers of the Qing dynasty, as a library for an educational institution called the Metropolitan Teachers' Chambers. Soon, the Xinhai Revolution took place, after which the library passed to the Ministry of Education, and in 1928 it acquired the status of a national library. In 2004, it was decided to build a new library building, construction continued until 2008 and cost the PRC authorities $ 180 million.

The largest library in China and all of Asia consists of three buildings with a total area of ​​250 thousand square meters. The funds contain more than 31 million various printed publications in 115 languages ​​of the world. The collection includes, among other things, 270,000 ancient Chinese books, antique maps, priceless ancient manuscripts found in the early Buddhist temple cave of Mogao, and examples of writing on bones and turtle shells. The building is open 365 days a year, about 12 thousand people visit it every day. It serves over 5.2 million readers a year.

Royal Library of Denmark

Rating: 4.3

Royal Library of Denmark

The largest library in Scandinavia was founded by King Frederick III in the middle of the 17th century. Since 1793, it has become a public domain, access was open to everyone. In 1989, it was merged with the funds of the University Library of Copenhagen, 16 years later it was replenished with funds from the library on medicine and natural history, and three years later – with funds from the national archive of folklore. The Royal Library is now located on Slotsholmen Island, in an ultra-modern building of black granite and glass called the “Black Diamond”. It also includes three old university buildings.

It contains 33 million prints, including almost all books printed in Denmark since the 17th century, rare foreign editions, a large number of historical documents, medieval manuscripts and much more. The most unique of its treasures are the Gutenberg Bible, the manuscripts of Martin Luther and the originals of the works of Hans Christian Andersen. The interior of the building is made in a modern style; for the convenience of visitors, there are several elevators and escalators.

National Parliamentary Library of Japan

Rating: 4.4

National Parliamentary Library of Japan

The National Parliamentary Library in the Land of the Rising Sun was formed in 1948 by the merger of the Imperial Library with the two libraries of the Japanese parliament. At first, its location was the government's guest house, Akasaka Palace. Later, a building was built for her in Tokyo's Nagatacho district. Since 2002, it has replenished with a department of children's literature, numbering up to 400 thousand publications, and a couple of years later it underwent a large-scale reconstruction in order to modernize it to improve the service of readers.

It is the most valuable repository of the literary heritage of the Japanese people, it contains almost all books and any other publications ever published in Japan. In addition, there is an extensive collection of foreign literature. In total, the funds contain almost 36 million units of publications, which also includes microfilms, old maps, and historical documents. At present, materials are being actively transferred to electronic form.

National Library of Russia

Rating: 4.5

National Library of Russia

The Russian National Library was one of the first to be established in Eastern Europe. They began to build it in the middle of the 18th century by order of Empress Catherine II for public education. The author of the project of the building in the classical style was the architect Yegor Sokolov. Even then, all citizens had access to it, regardless of social status. The fund contained not only all the published Russian-language publications, but also books in the languages ​​of other nationalities of Russia. Since 1810, a regulation was approved by Emperor Alexander I obliging to deliver to the library two copies of each new printed matter. In 1930, enthusiasts undertook an important reform that began categorizing publications from fiction to medical and technical, and created their own reading room for each department. The quality of cataloging and customer service has also improved significantly. Since 1949, the National Library has expanded to include the former Institute of Noble Maidens. During the Second World War, despite the blockade that resulted in power outages and a shortage of fuel, the workers managed to keep most of the library stock.

Today the library building, along with other architectural monuments, is considered an important part of the historical heritage of St. Petersburg. The funds contain 38 million printed editions, of which 400 thousand are old manuscripts. Among the most valuable masterpieces that are in storage are: fragments of the famous Sinai Codex, the Laurentian Chronicle and the Ostromir Gospel, dating from the 11th century AD. There is also a collection of Eastern and Western European manuscripts.

Russian State Library

Rating: 4.6

Russian State Library

The State Library of Russia has existed since 1862, being founded on the basis of museums, it soon became the most important repository of cultural heritage. After the transfer of the capital of the state to Moscow, it began to be considered the main one in the country, and a little later received the official status of an institution of republican significance. In the 1940s, there was an active exchange of books with foreign countries, thanks to which the funds were replenished with a large number of new publications, mainly in English. Today it is the largest library in the entire continental Europe.

Within its walls are stored over 47 million units of publications, categorized. Some of them are especially rare and valuable. In particular, it has such unique copies as the Khitrovo Gospel dating from the 15th century, the Arkhangelsk Gospel of the 11th century, ancient Slavic manuscripts, books from the personal collection of the Romanovs, Russian periodicals of the 18th century, Persian poetry collections and much more. For reading, the RSL has 36 rooms with a total capacity of over 1,500 visitors. About 12.6 million people use its services annually.

Library and Archives of Canada

Rating: 4.7

Library and Archives of Canada

The National Library of Canada has existed since 1953, and in 2004 it was merged with the Canadian National Archives by parliamentary decree. The building, which embodies the most important part of the country's cultural heritage, is located in the city of Ottawa, it occupies five floors and is considered a historical heritage. The library employs over 1,100 people.

The library fund contains 48 million items, primarily book publications (about 20 million), important documents, as well as all newspapers, magazines and even comics published in the country. There are also such valuable artifacts as personal diaries of famous people, old maps and samples of writing of indigenous people. In addition, there is a special art section. Digital content takes up more than a petabyte of information and is continually growing with new electronic literature.

New York Public Library

Rating: 4.8

New York Public Library

The New York Library is the undisputed leader in terms of the number of visitors – every year it serves up to 18 million people. The institution was founded at the beginning of the 20th century, based on the private collection of the philanthropist James Lenox and the funds of the millionaire John Astor. Construction of the luxurious building, located on Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan Island, took eight years. The room is distinguished not only by the magnificent architecture and sculptures of lions at the entrance, but also by the unique interior decoration. The pride of the library is the main reading room with a total area of ​​up to two thousand square meters with a 16-meter ceiling.

Her collection contains about 53 million titles, including 14 million books. It contains publications in 370 different languages ​​and dialects of the world, and every week the fund is replenished with thousands of new copies. It is divided into 87 subdivisions, including whole separate subdivisions for persons with disabilities. Thanks to modern technologies and highly qualified staff, the search for any requested publication takes only a few minutes. The library collection possesses a significant number of rare items, the most important of which are the draft by Thomas Jefferson and the Gutenberg Bible.

British library

Rating: 4.9

British library

One of the richest libraries in the world has long existed as a department of the British Museum. Since 1972, it has been legally separated from the museum, but it was still located in the same building as before. A separate building by decree of the British Parliament was built for it only in 1997. Despite the availability of an abundance of information in electronic form, the library is still visited by about 16 thousand readers daily.

Huge funds, which today have 150 million items, are constantly replenished. Each year, the fund grows by three million items, mostly new printed materials. The collection contains about 14 million books and a large number of manuscripts, some of which date back to the year 2000 BC. Particularly rare exhibits include da Vinci's manuscripts, the 3rd century AD Buddhist Diamond Sutra, pages of the Codex Sinai, the original Boevulf epic manuscript, and the world's first printed map of the New World.

1st place – Library of Congress

Rating: 5.0

Library of Congress

The largest library in the world is designed, as its name implies, primarily to meet the needs of government officials, and its services are often used by researchers, educational institutions and various private companies. Created the Library of Congress in 1800 at the personal behest of John Adams, the second president of the United States. The original collection contained less than a thousand books. Access to them, in addition to the president and vice president himself, had only the American government: members of the Senate and House of Representatives, that is, the US Congress. After the fire of 1814, it was updated with the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson. Soon there was another fire that cost the Washington authorities $ 170,000, a huge amount at the time. Upon completion of the reconstruction, the library was allowed to use not only politicians, but also prominent journalists, scientists, and writers. National status has been assigned to it since 1930.

The Universal and Comprehensive Collections contains over 168 million copies, which include about 30 million books, 50 million handwritten texts, as well as a huge amount of photos, videos and audio materials. There are 18 reading rooms that can accommodate almost one and a half thousand visitors at the same time. Currently, access to its repository is still limited, so despite such a colossal volume of materials, its services are used by no more than 1.7 million people a year on average.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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