List of the largest libraries in the United States
The American Library Association maintains a list of the 100 largest libraries in the United States by volumes held. 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.
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."
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. The largest academic library is the Harvard University Library, with 16,832,952 volumes. 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, while the largest academic library outside the continental United States is the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, with 3,602,058 volumes.
Largest libraries in the United States
- The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held (ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 22). American Library Association] (October 2012).
- "Library of Congress Annual Report: FY 2010." Library of Congress.
- "Association of Research Libraries Statistics 2007-08," Association of Research Libraries.
- "Public Library Data Service Statistical Report 2009," Public Library Association (division of American Library Association)
- "Component unit" of the City of Boston. See "City Departments," City of Boston, and "FY10 Financial Statement," Boston Public Library.
- 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.
- "About The New York Public Library," New York Public Library; "NYPL fiscal 2010 audited financial statements, New York Public Library.
- "ARL Statistics 2009–2010". arl.org.
- 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).
- The City University of New York. "About our library system". cuny.edu.
- 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).
- 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.
- "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).
- 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.
- Department of city government. "Chicago Public Library," City of Chicago; "Chicago Public Library – Leadership." City of Chicago.
- "," City of San Diego.
- 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).
- "KCLS Board of Trustees," King County Library System.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Department of city government. "Departments and Directors" (2011), City of Houston.
- The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held by the American Library Association
- 13th-Million volume acquired by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign