List of the largest libraries in the United States

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The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States. Above, the Library of Congress' Thomas Jefferson Building.

The American Library Association maintains a list of the 100 largest libraries in the United States by volumes held.[1] The ALA's list was last updated in October 2012, although much of the most recent data is from 2009–2010 report by the Association of Research Libraries (academic institutions) and the 2011 Statistical Report of the Public Library Data Service.[1]

A complication that arises when comparing the size of library collections is the different definition of holdings or volumes used by public libraries and academic/research libraries. The Association of Research Libraries uses the National Information Standards Organization definition of volume, which is "A single physical unit of any printed, typewritten, handwritten, mimeographed, or processed work, distinguished from other units by a separate binding, encasement, portfolio, or other clear distinction, which has been cataloged, classified, and made ready for use, and which is typically the unit used to charge circulation transactions." In contrast, the Public Library Data Service Statistical Report (a publication of the Public Library Association, which is a division of the American Library Association) defines holdings as "the number of cataloged items (number of items, number of titles) plus paperbacks and videocassettes even if uncataloged."[1]

The largest public library is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (the de facto national library of the United States), with 34,528,818 volumes.[2] The largest academic library is the Harvard University Library, with 16,832,952 volumes.[3] The largest library outside of the continental United States is the Hawaii State Public Library System, the statewide public library system of Hawaii, with 3,776,405 volumes,[4] while the largest academic library outside the continental United States is the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, with 3,602,058 volumes.[3]

Largest libraries in the United States[edit]

NumberInstitutionVolumesTypeAdministrationStateSource for
ALA data
1Library of Congress34,528,818PublicUnited States CongressWashington, D.C.[2]
2Boston Public Library19,090,261PublicCity of Boston[5]Massachusetts[6]
3Harvard University Library16,832,952AcademicHarvard UniversityMassachusetts[3]
4New York Public Library16,342,365PublicPrivate non-profit with majority of funding from city government.[7]New York[6]
5University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Library13,158,748AcademicUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–ChampaignIllinois[3]
6Yale University Library12,787,962AcademicYale UniversityConnecticut[3]
7University of California, Berkeley Libraries11,545,418AcademicUniversity of California, BerkeleyCalifornia[3]
8Columbia University Libraries11,189,036AcademicColumbia UniversityNew York[3]
9University of Michigan Library10,778,736AcademicUniversity of MichiganMichigan[3]
10University of Texas Libraries9,990,941AcademicUniversity of Texas at AustinTexas[3]
11University of Chicago Library9,837,021AcademicUniversity of ChicagoIllinois[8]
12University of California, Los Angeles Library9,151,964AcademicUniversity of California, Los AngelesCalifornia[3]
13Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County8,819,759PublicHamilton County, Ohio[9]Ohio[4]
14Indiana University Libraries8,677,974AcademicIndiana University BloomingtonIndiana[3]
15Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources8,500,000AcademicStanford UniversityCalifornia[3]
16University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries8,421,198AcademicUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonWisconsin[3]
17Cornell University Library8,173,778AcademicCornell UniversityNew York[3]
18Princeton University Library7,226,744AcademicPrinceton UniversityNew Jersey[3]
19University of Washington Libraries7,203,156AcademicUniversity of WashingtonWashington[3]
20University of Minnesota Libraries7,111,311AcademicUniversity of MinnesotaMinnesota[3]
21Detroit Public Library7,070,433Public"Independent municipal corporation" with library commissioners
appointed by the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education.[10]
22University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library7,012,787AcademicUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillNorth Carolina[3]
23County of Los Angeles Public Library6,795,552PublicLos Angeles County, California[11]California[4]
24Queens Borough Public Library6,544,609PublicAutonomous, with trustees appointed by city officials
and majority of funding from city government.[12]
New York
25Los Angeles Public Library6,459,552PublicCity of Los Angeles[13]California[4]
26University of Pennsylvania Libraries6,438,305AcademicUniversity of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania[3]
27Duke University Libraries6,174,814AcademicDuke UniversityNorth Carolina[3]
28Ohio State University Libraries6,161,657AcademicOhio State UniversityOhio[3]
29University of Pittsburgh Library System6,148,036AcademicUniversity of PittsburghPennsylvania[3]
30University of Arizona Libraries5,998,148AcademicUniversity of ArizonaArizona[3]
31Chicago Public Library5,790,289PublicCity of Chicago[14]Illinois[4]
32University of Oklahoma Libraries5,662,666AcademicUniversity of OklahomaOklahoma[3]
33Michigan State University Libraries5,609,761AcademicMichigan State UniversityMichigan[3]
34University of Virginia Library5,607,915AcademicUniversity of VirginiaVirginia[3]
35San Diego Public Library5,535,415PublicCity of San Diego[15]California[4]
36University of Iowa Libraries5,490,825AcademicUniversity of IowaIowa[3]
37Pennsylvania State University Libraries5,441,121AcademicPennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvania[3]
38New York University Libraries5,382,424AcademicNew York UniversityNew York[3]
39Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh5,230,200PublicPittsburghPennsylvania[3]
39Northwestern University Library5,047,970AcademicNorthwestern UniversityIllinois[3]
40Free Library of Philadelphia5,043,943PublicPennsylvania[4]
41Dallas Public Library4,972,494PublicTexas[4]
42Hennepin County Library4,961,514PublicMinnesota[4]
43University of Georgia Libraries4,810,192AcademicUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgia[3]
44Rutgers University Libraries4,722,407AcademicRutgers UniversityNew Jersey[3]
45University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries4,681,261AcademicUniversity of Colorado at BoulderColorado[3]
46Texas A&M University Libraries4,577,498AcademicTexas A&M UniversityTexas[3]
47Arizona State University Libraries4,497,114AcademicArizona State UniversityArizona[3]
48University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries4,414,450AcademicUniversity of FloridaFlorida[3]
49University of Cincinnati Libraries4,379,445AcademicUniversity of CincinnatiOhio[4]
50North Carolina State University Libraries4,332,899AcademicNorth Carolina State UniversityNorth Carolina[3]
51Washington University Libraries4,323,958AcademicWashington University in St. LouisMissouri[3]
52University of Kansas Libraries4,318,644AcademicUniversity of KansasKansas[3]
53Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library4,292,056AcademicBrigham Young UniversityUtah[3]
54Cleveland Public Library4,273,202PublicOhio[4]
55Brooklyn Public Library4,233,304PublicIndependent nonprofit, with majority of trustees appointed
by city officials and majority of funding by city government.[16]
New York[4]
56Brown University Library4,187,257AcademicBrown UniversityRhode Island[3]
57University of Southern California Libraries4,180,515AcademicUniversity of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia[3]
58University of California, Davis Library4,175,047AcademicUniversity of California, DavisCalifornia[3]
59Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University4,155,793AcademicTulane UniversityLouisiana[3]
60Louisiana State University Libraries4,128,626AcademicLouisiana State UniversityLouisiana[3]
61University of Connecticut Libraries4,096,396AcademicUniversity of ConnecticutConnecticut[3]
62King County Library System4,044,907PublicKing County, Washington[17]Washington[4]
63State University of New York at Buffalo Libraries4,029,865AcademicUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkNew York[3]
64Temple University Libraries3,990,379AcademicTemple UniversityPennsylvania[3]
65University of South Carolina Libraries3,963,958AcademicUniversity of South CarolinaSouth Carolina[3]
66University of Maryland Libraries3,930,013AcademicUniversity of Maryland, College ParkMaryland[3]
67University of Kentucky Libraries3,915,579AcademicUniversity of KentuckyKentucky[3]
68University of California, San Diego Libraries3,830,802AcademicUniversity of California, San DiegoCalifornia[3]
69University of Rochester Libraries3,826,916AcademicUniversity of RochesterNew York[3]
70Hawaii State Public Library System3,776,405PublicState of HawaiiHawaii[4]
71Johns Hopkins University Libraries3,701,215AcademicJohns Hopkins UniversityMaryland[3]
72University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries3,697,796AcademicUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstMassachusetts[3]
73Miami-Dade Public Library System3,674,651PublicMiami-Dade County, FloridaFlorida[3]
74University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries3,673,092AcademicUniversity of Notre DameIndiana[3]
75Wayne State University Libraries3,655,805AcademicWayne State UniversityMichigan[3]
76Emory University Libraries3,619,813AcademicEmory UniversityGeorgia[3]
77University of Hawaii at Manoa Library3,602,058AcademicUniversity of Hawaiʻi at MānoaHawaii[3]
78University of Missouri Libraries3,561,607AcademicUniversity of MissouriMissouri[3]
79University of Alabama Libraries3,533,794AcademicUniversity of AlabamaAlabama[3]
80Vanderbilt University Jean and Alexander Heard Library3,531,208AcademicVanderbilt UniversityTennessee[3]
81University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries3,500,601AcademicUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnNebraska[3]
82Broward County Libraries Division3,477,312PublicBroward County, FloridaFlorida[4]
83Auburn University Libraries3,472,547AcademicAuburn UniversityAlabama[3]
84Oklahoma State University Libraries3,468,428AcademicOklahoma State UniversityOklahoma
85Georgetown University Library3,461,170AcademicGeorgetown UniversityWashington, D.C.[3]
86University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library3,441,965AcademicUniversity of UtahUtah[3]
87University of New Mexico Libraries3,430,200AcademicUniversity of New MexicoNew Mexico[3]
88Mid-Continent Public Library3,419,516PublicSeparate political division governed by Board of Trustees
appointed by officials in Clay, Platte, and Jackson counties.[18]
89Allen County Public Library3,412,830PublicAllen County, Indiana[19]Indiana[4]
90St. Louis Public Library3,352,775PublicCity of St. Louis[20]Missouri[4]
91University of Miami Libraries3,348,622AcademicUniversity of MiamiFlorida[3]
92University of Tennessee Libraries3,330,181AcademicUniversity of TennesseeTennessee[3]
93Syracuse University Library3,291,384AcademicSyracuse UniversityNew York[3]
94Cuyahoga County Public Library3,252,456PublicIndependent political subdivision in Cuyahoga County, Ohio[21]Ohio[4]
95University of California, Irvine Libraries3,223,679AcademicUniversity of California, IrvineCalifornia[3]
96Buffalo & Erie County Public Library3,211,709PublicCity of Buffalo[22]New York[4]
97Southern Illinois University Carbondale Morris Library3,203,455AcademicSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleIllinois[3]
98Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries3,119,157AcademicMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts[3]
99University of California, Riverside Libraries3,066,630AcademicUniversity of California, RiversideCalifornia[3]
100Houston Public Library3,061,773PublicCity of Houston[23]Texas[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held (ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 22). American Library Association] (October 2012).
  2. ^ a b "Library of Congress Annual Report: FY 2010." Library of Congress.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx "Association of Research Libraries Statistics 2007-08," Association of Research Libraries.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Public Library Data Service Statistical Report 2009," Public Library Association (division of American Library Association)
  5. ^ "Component unit" of the City of Boston. See "City Departments," City of Boston, and "FY10 Financial Statement," Boston Public Library.
  6. ^ a b Library includes both public and research collection. Data for public holdings is from "Public Library Data Service Statistical Report 2009," Public Library Association (division of American Library Association), and data for research holdings is from "Association of Research Libraries Statistics 2007-08," Association of Research Libraries.
  7. ^ "About The New York Public Library," New York Public Library; "NYPL fiscal 2010 audited financial statements, New York Public Library.
  8. ^ ARL Statistics 2009-2010
  9. ^ Funded by State of Ohio Public Library Fund (61.4% of revenue received) and Hamilton County tax levy (33 percent received) ("Funding," Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County). The Library is under the control and management of the Board of Trustees consisting of seven members, four of whom are appointed by the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners and three by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas ("Board of Trustees," Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County).
  10. ^ Governed by an "independent municipal corporation" governed by a seven-member Detroit Library Commission. Six members are appointed by the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education. The seventh member is the president of the Board of Education, who served ex officio ("Commission Members, Detroit Public Library).
  11. ^ Special-fund department operating under the authority of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, established under the County Free Library Act of 1912. "About Us," County of Los Angeles Public Library.
  12. ^ "Autonomous library system" overseen by 19-member Board of Trustees, alternately appointed by the mayor of New York City and the Queens Borough President. The Mayor, Borough President, Public Advocate, Comptroller, and Speaker of the City Council, and all ex officio members. In Fiscal Year 2008, 82 percent of funds came from the City of New York ("About Us," Queens Borough Public Library).
  13. ^ The Los Angeles Public Library is administered by the City of Los Angeles Library Department; under the Los Angeles City Charter, the Library Department's legal head is the Board of Library Commissioners. Members of the Library Commission are appointed by the mayor of Los Angeles and confirmed by the City Council for staggered five-year terms. "About the Board," Los Angeles Public Library.
  14. ^ Department of city government. "Chicago Public Library," City of Chicago; "Chicago Public Library - Leadership." City of Chicago.
  15. ^ "[1]," City of San Diego.
  16. ^ 501(c)(3) nonprofit. ("Financials," Brooklyn Public Library). The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the library. The mayor of New York City and the Brooklyn Borough President each appoint 11 trustees, with 12 additional members elected to serve on the board ("Board of Trustees," Brooklyn Public Library). The majority of funding is contributed by the New York City government.("Audited Financial Statements (Consolidated for BPL and BPLF) for Fiscal Year 2010," Brooklyn Public Library).
  17. ^ "KCLS Board of Trustees," King County Library System.
  18. ^ Governed by twelve-member Board of Trustees. Under Missouri Statutes, each county within the library district appoints four trustees. The Clay County Commission, Platte County Commissions, and the Jackson County Executive make appointments annually ("Board of Trustees," Mid-Continent Public Library.
  19. ^ Members of the board of trustees are appointed by Allen County Council (the county's fiscal authority), the Allen County Board of County Commissioners County, Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees, and the school board presidents of the Southwest, Northwest, and East Allen County ("Board of Library Trustees," Allen County Public Library).
  20. ^ Nine members of the board of trustees are nominated by the mayor of St. Louis and confirmed by the Board of Aldermen, "Board of Directors," St. Louis Public Library); see also "Appropriate use of the Library," St. Louis Public Library.
  21. ^ Independent political subdivision (with no tax-levying authority) in Cuyahoga County, but not part of Cuyahoga County government. The seven members of the Board of Library Trustees are appointed for seven-year terms, with some appointments made by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and some appointments made by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas ("Our Organization," Cuyahoga County Public Library.
  22. ^ Since the early 1950s, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has been a municipal library system by state law. Chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, the system includes the Central Library and eight branches in the City of Buffalo and also 22 "contracting member libraries" operating out of 28 facilities outside Buffalo. There is a single system-wide Board of Trustees and 22 independent member library boards. The 15 System Board members are appointed by the Erie County Executive (ten trustees) and the mayor of Buffalo through a list of nominees (five trustees). The Erie County Legislature approves the trustees ("About the Library," Buffalo & Erie County Public Library).
  23. ^ Department of city government. "Departments and Directors" (2011), City of Houston.

External links[edit]