List of the largest libraries in the United States

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

Number Institution Volumes Type Administration State Source for
ALA data
1 Library of Congress 34,528,818 Public United States Congress Washington, DC [2]
2 Boston Public Library 19,090,261 Public City of Boston[5] Massachusetts [6]
3 Harvard University Library 16,832,952 Academic Harvard University Massachusetts [3]
4 New York Public Library 16,342,365 Public Private non-profit with majority of funding from city government.[7] New York [6]
5 Yale University Library 15,200,000 Academic Yale University Connecticut [3]
6 University of Michigan Library 13,829,825 Academic University of Michigan Michigan [3]
7 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Library 13,158,748 Academic University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Illinois [3]
8 University of California, Berkeley Libraries 11,545,418 Academic University of California, Berkeley California [3]
9 Columbia University Libraries 11,189,036 Academic Columbia University New York [3]
10 University of Texas Libraries 9,990,941 Academic University of Texas at Austin Texas [3]
11 Indiana University Libraries 9,934,302 Academic Indiana University Bloomington Indiana [3]
12 University of Chicago Library 9,837,021 Academic University of Chicago Illinois [8]
13 University of California, Los Angeles Library 9,151,964 Academic University of California, Los Angeles California [3]
14 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County 8,819,759 Public Hamilton County, Ohio[9] Ohio [4]
15 Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources 8,500,000 Academic Stanford University California [3]
16 University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries 8,421,198 Academic University of Wisconsin–Madison Wisconsin [3]
17 Cornell University Library 8,173,778 Academic Cornell University New York [3]
17 City University of New York 7,500,000 Academic City University of New York[10] New York [3]
18 Princeton University Library 7,226,744 Academic Princeton University New Jersey [3]
19 University of Washington Libraries 7,203,156 Academic University of Washington Washington [3]
20 University of Minnesota Libraries 7,111,311 Academic University of Minnesota Minnesota [3]
21 Detroit Public Library 7,070,433 Public "Independent municipal corporation" with library commissioners
appointed by the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education.[11]
Michigan [4]
22 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library 7,012,787 Academic University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina [3]
23 County of Los Angeles Public Library 6,795,552 Public Los Angeles County, California[12] California [4]
24 Queens Borough Public Library 6,544,609 Public Autonomous, with trustees appointed by city officials
and majority of funding from city government.[13]
New York
25 Los Angeles Public Library 6,459,552 Public City of Los Angeles[14] California [4]
26 University of Pennsylvania Libraries 6,438,305 Academic University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania [3]
27 Duke University Libraries 6,174,814 Academic Duke University North Carolina [3]
28 Ohio State University Libraries 6,161,657 Academic Ohio State University Ohio [3]
29 University of Pittsburgh Library System 6,148,036 Academic University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania [3]
30 University of Arizona Libraries 5,998,148 Academic University of Arizona Arizona [3]
31 Chicago Public Library 5,790,289 Public City of Chicago[15] Illinois [4]
32 University of Oklahoma Libraries 5,662,666 Academic University of Oklahoma Oklahoma [3]
33 Michigan State University Libraries 5,609,761 Academic Michigan State University Michigan [3]
34 University of Virginia Library 5,607,915 Academic University of Virginia Virginia [3]
35 San Diego Public Library 5,535,415 Public City of San Diego[16] California [4]
36 University of Iowa Libraries 5,490,825 Academic University of Iowa Iowa [3]
37 Pennsylvania State University Libraries 5,441,121 Academic Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania [3]
31 New York University Libraries 5,900,000[17] Academic New York University New York [3]
39 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh 5,230,200 Public Pittsburgh Pennsylvania [3]
39 Northwestern University Library 5,047,970 Academic Northwestern University Illinois [3]
40 Free Library of Philadelphia 5,043,943 Public Pennsylvania [4]
41 Dallas Public Library 4,972,494 Public City of Dallas Texas [4]
42 Hennepin County Library 4,961,514 Public Minnesota [4]
43 University of Georgia Libraries 4,810,192 Academic University of Georgia Georgia [3]
44 Rutgers University Libraries 4,722,407 Academic Rutgers University New Jersey [3]
45 University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries 4,681,261 Academic University of Colorado at Boulder Colorado [3]
46 Texas A&M University Libraries 4,577,498 Academic Texas A&M University Texas [3]
47 Arizona State University Libraries 4,497,114 Academic Arizona State University Arizona [3]
48 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries 4,414,450 Academic University of Florida Florida [3]
49 University of Cincinnati Libraries 4,379,445 Academic University of Cincinnati Ohio [4]
50 North Carolina State University Libraries 4,332,899 Academic North Carolina State University North Carolina [3]
51 Washington University Libraries 4,323,958 Academic Washington University in St. Louis Missouri [3]
52 University of Kansas Libraries 4,318,644 Academic University of Kansas Kansas [3]
53 Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library 4,292,056 Academic Brigham Young University Utah [3]
54 Cleveland Public Library 4,273,202 Public Ohio [4]
55 Brooklyn Public Library 4,233,304 Public Independent nonprofit, with majority of trustees appointed
by city officials and majority of funding by city government.[18]
New York [4]
56 Brown University Library 4,187,257 Academic Brown University Rhode Island [3]
57 University of Southern California Libraries 4,180,515 Academic University of Southern California California [3]
58 University of California, Davis Library 4,175,047 Academic University of California, Davis California [3]
59 Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University 4,155,793 Academic Tulane University Louisiana [3]
60 Louisiana State University Libraries 4,128,626 Academic Louisiana State University Louisiana [3]
61 University of Connecticut Libraries 4,096,396 Academic University of Connecticut Connecticut [3]
62 King County Library System 4,044,907 Public King County, Washington[19] Washington [4]
63 State University of New York at Buffalo Libraries 4,029,865 Academic University at Buffalo, The State University of New York New York [3]
64 Temple University Libraries 3,990,379 Academic Temple University Pennsylvania [3]
65 University of South Carolina Libraries 3,963,958 Academic University of South Carolina South Carolina [3]
66 University of Maryland Libraries 3,930,013 Academic University of Maryland, College Park Maryland [3]
67 University of Kentucky Libraries 3,915,579 Academic University of Kentucky Kentucky [3]
68 University of California, San Diego Libraries 3,830,802 Academic University of California, San Diego California [3]
69 University of Rochester Libraries 3,826,916 Academic University of Rochester New York [3]
70 Hawaii State Public Library System 3,776,405 Public State of Hawaii Hawaii [4]
71 Johns Hopkins University Libraries 3,701,215 Academic Johns Hopkins University Maryland [3]
72 University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries 3,697,796 Academic University of Massachusetts Amherst Massachusetts [3]
73 Miami-Dade Public Library System 3,674,651 Public Miami-Dade County, Florida Florida [3]
74 University of Notre Dame Theodore Hesburgh Library 3,673,092 Academic University of Notre Dame Indiana [3]
75 Wayne State University Libraries 3,655,805 Academic Wayne State University Michigan [3]
76 Emory University Libraries 3,619,813 Academic Emory University Georgia [3]
77 University of Hawaii at Manoa Library 3,602,058 Academic University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaii [3]
78 University of Missouri Libraries 3,561,607 Academic University of Missouri Missouri [3]
79 University of Alabama Libraries 3,533,794 Academic University of Alabama Alabama [3]
80 Vanderbilt University Jean and Alexander Heard Library 3,531,208 Academic Vanderbilt University Tennessee [3]
81 University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries 3,500,601 Academic University of Nebraska–Lincoln Nebraska [3]
82 Broward County Libraries Division 3,477,312 Public Broward County, Florida Florida [4]
83 Auburn University Libraries 3,472,547 Academic Auburn University Alabama [3]
84 Oklahoma State University Libraries 3,468,428 Academic Oklahoma State University Oklahoma
85 Georgetown University Lauinger Library 3,461,170 Academic Georgetown University Washington, D.C. [3]
86 University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library 3,441,965 Academic University of Utah Utah [3]
87 University of New Mexico Libraries 3,430,200 Academic University of New Mexico New Mexico [3]
88 Mid-Continent Public Library 3,419,516 Public Separate political division governed by Board of Trustees
appointed by officials in Clay, Platte, and Jackson counties.[20]
Missouri [4]
89 Allen County Public Library 3,412,830 Public Allen County, Indiana[21] Indiana [4]
90 St. Louis Public Library 3,352,775 Public City of St. Louis[22] Missouri [4]
91 University of Miami Libraries 3,348,622 Academic University of Miami Florida [3]
92 University of Tennessee Libraries 3,330,181 Academic University of Tennessee Tennessee [3]
93 Syracuse University Library 3,291,384 Academic Syracuse University New York [3]
94 Cuyahoga County Public Library 3,252,456 Public Independent political subdivision in Cuyahoga County, Ohio[23] Ohio [4]
95 University of California, Irvine Libraries 3,223,679 Academic University of California, Irvine California [3]
96 Buffalo & Erie County Public Library 3,211,709 Public City of Buffalo[24] New York [4]
97 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Morris Library 3,203,455 Academic Southern Illinois University Carbondale Illinois [3]
98 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries 3,119,157 Academic Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts [3]
99 University of California, Riverside Libraries 3,066,630 Academic University of California, Riverside California [3]
100 Houston Public Library 3,061,773 Public City of Houston[25] Texas [4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held (ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 22). American Library Association] (October 2012).
  2. 1 2 "Library of Congress Annual Report: FY 2010." Library of Congress.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 "Association of Research Libraries Statistics 2007-08," Association of Research Libraries.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 "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. 1 2 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. The City University of New York. "About our library system".
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. "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).
  14. 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.
  15. Department of city government. "Chicago Public Library," City of Chicago; "Chicago Public Library – Leadership." City of Chicago.
  16. "," City of San Diego.
  18. 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).
  19. "KCLS Board of Trustees," King County Library System.
  20. 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.
  21. 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).
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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).
  25. Department of city government. "Departments and Directors" (2011), City of Houston.

External links

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