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The Two Largest Libraries in the World, Their Collections Are Priceless

The Two Largest Libraries in the World, Their Collections Are Priceless

When talking about free learning, libraries are the one that comes to mind. By the way, did you know that Indonesia has the highest library in the world? With a building height of 126.3 meters, the National Library (National Library of the Republic of Indonesia) building in Jakarta is said to be the tallest library building in the world.

It’s tall, but with a collection of around 5 million books, Indonesia’s proud library is still far behind the largest libraries in the world. There are two libraries which we can say are the largest in the world, if we try to judge them from the number of collections of items they have.

It is difficult to compare the two because there are no exact figures regarding the size of their collections, but the numbers are not much different. The collections of these two libraries also far exceed the third largest library, namely the Shanghai Library in China. Come on, let’s just discuss the two largest libraries in the world.

Library of Congress

On its official website, the Library of Congress states that they are the largest library in the world. This library, located in the city of Washington DC, was founded in 1800 and is the largest federal cultural institution in Uncle Sam’s country. They claim to have 170 million collection items.

How is it possible that the library, which was burned down in 1814, has such a large collection? In 1987, the Library of Congress’s collection numbered “only” 85.5 million items. All that changed when President Ronald Reagan appointed historian James H. Billington as librarian there. 

Under Billington’s leadership, the library’s collection doubled in almost three decades. How could this not increase quickly, every working day, the Library of Congress receives more than 15 thousand new items and adds around 10 thousand items to its collection.

These objects were acquired through copyright deposits, purchases, gifts, from other government agencies, as well as exchanges with other libraries around the world.

In the Library of Congress’s 170 million-item collection, there are 32 million books and 61 million manuscripts written in 470 languages. Apart from books, there are 500 thousand microfilms, 140 thousand comics, 1.9 million moving pictures, 5.3 million maps, 6 million sheet music, 3 million sound recordings, and 14.7 million photographs.

One of the most important items in the Library of Congress is a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.

British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, under the auspices of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Like the Library of Congress, the British Library also has a collection that far exceeds the collections of other giant libraries in the world. The British Library collection reaches 170-200 million items.

How could it not be, the British Library holds copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as most of the books from abroad that are sold in the UK.

The British Library’s achievements with more than 170 million items are considered cooler than the Library of Congress. This is because the British Library was only built on July 1 1973, almost two centuries after its rival from the US.

Important items in this library located in London are various donations and acquisitions of various items from the 19th century, including books and manuscripts from important figures in the history of the British Empire such as Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Hans Sloane, Robert Harley , King George III, and King George II.

Various manuscripts of popular English literary figures are also in the British Library, including Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hans Christian Andersen, Ian Fleming, Tolkien, and Thomas Malory. The library also holds original manuscripts of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Claude Debussy, Johannes Brahm, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Apart from that, the British Library also stores various letters, diaries, notes and other manuscripts from famous figures such as Marie Antoinette, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, Galileo, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Martin Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, even those who were British enemies in World War II such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

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