The Largest Libraries in the United States

The United States boasts a great number of big libraries that house precious collections of rare and exclusive books. The American Library Association has compiled a list of the 100 largest libraries in the country by volumes held. The list was last updated in the fall of 2012, but most of the latest data is based on the report prepared by the Association of Research Libraries in 2009–2010 and the 2011 Statistical Report by the Public Library Data Service.
Sometimes it is rather difficult to compare the size of library collections because public and academic libraries use different definition of holdings or volumes. While the Association of Research Libraries relies on the definition of volume by National Information Standards Organization, the Public Library Data Service Statistical Report, a division of the American Library Association, gives definition of holdings as cataloged items in addition to paperbacks and videocassettes. Here is the list of the top ten libraries in the country.

Thebookhouse Library of Congress in Washington

Thebookhouse - Library of Congress in Washington

Thebookhouse Library of Congress in Washington Hall

Thebookhouse Library of Congress in Washington Hall

The largest public library in the U.S. is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., which is also considered the country's national library. Home to about 35 million volumes, it is the official research library of the United States Congress. The oldest federal cultural institution in the country, the library occupies three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as well as the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, where the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is located. In fact, the library is considered the largest in the world by the size of its collection, the British Library being the second largest. The library's collections are not limited by subject or national boundary, and contain books from all countries of the world published in over 450 languages. The library continues to enlarge its huge collection and two-thirds of the newly acquired books are in foreign languages.

Thebookhouse - Boston Public Library Frontage

Thebookhouse - Hall of Boston Public Library

The second-largest public library in the U. S. after the Library of Congress, the Boston Public Library is a municipal public, founded in 1848. It houses nearly 23 million items, including books, maps, visual materials, DVDs and music scores. In 2014, the library run more than 10,000 free programs to the public, and lent 3.7 million books and other materials. Containing research collections of great importance, the Boston Public Library joined the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), with the New York Public Library being the only other public library member of the ARL, a not-for-profit organization that comprises the research libraries of North America.

Thebookhouse - Library Frontage of Harvard University

Thebookhouse - Hall of Harvard University Library

The largest academic library of the U.S. is the Harvard University Library that contains over 18 million volumes. It was founded in 1638 by John Harvard and originally included 400 books. Now it is a huge library system that includes 73 libraries, being the largest private library system in the world.

Thebookhouse New York Public Library

Thebookhouse New York Public Library

Thebookhouse New York Public Library Research Room

Thebookhouse New York Public Library Research Room

The fourth largest in the world, the New York Public Library (NYPL) was founded in 1895 and houses approximately 16 million volumes. It is a nonprofit corporation, independently managed and relying on both private and public financing. The library system features branches in Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to affiliations with academic and professional libraries in New York State. The Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library serve Brooklyn and Queens respectively. The branch libraries that include both research and circulating libraries are open to the general public.

Thebookhouse Library Urbana Illinois

Thebookhouse Hall of Library Urbana Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign boasts the second-largest university library in the country after Harvard University. This public university is well- known for its extensive research activity. Founded in 1867, it is the second oldest public university in the state, and a member of the Association of American Universities. Its campus library system is known throughout the world as one of the largest, with more than 20 department libraries and divisions. Its public academic collections number over 24 million items, with more than 12 million print volumes. In 2012, it had as many as 5 million books directly accessible in stacks in a single location. The University of Illinois is also home to Grainger Engineering Library which is the largest public engineering library in the USA.

Thebookhouse Grainger Engineering Library

Thebookhouse Grainger Engineering Library Hall

Thebookhouse Yale University in New Haven Connecticut

Thebookhouse Yale University in New Haven Books Hall

With about 15.2 million volumes, the library system of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is contained in fifteen university buildings. The Yale University Library was founded in 1701 and was started with the donation of several dozen books. Today the library's collection is the third-largest academic library in the USA. The key element of the library system is the Sterling Memorial Library, a building constructed in 1931 where the main library offices, the archives and a music library are housed. The library is famous for its extensive collection of rare books. A number of schools and departments at Yale also have their own collections, including a dozen of on-campus facilities. The library boasts an extensive research database. Together with the Harvard Library and Columbia Libraries, the Yale University Library founded the Research Libraries Group consortium and is also a member of BorrowDirect that enables the users to check out books from other major American research institutions.

Facade University of Michigan Library

Reading Room University of Michigan Library

The University of Michigan Library based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is home to over 12.44 million volumes, with the campus libraries housing more than 13.36 million volumes. The University Library was founded in 1838 and its main collection is contained in 12 buildings that are home to over 20 libraries, including Special Collections Library, the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, Taubman Health Sciences Library, Hatcher Graduate Library, among others.
The University of California, Berkeley features 32 constituent and affiliated libraries that together constitute the fourth largest university library in the U.S. In 2006, Berkeley's library system numbered more than 10 million volumes. The libraries together occupy more than 12 acres (49,000 m2) of territory, being one of the largest library systems in the world. According to the 2003 report of the Association of Research Libraries it was ranked the top public and third overall university library in North America.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services comprise more than 12 million volumes and over 160,000 journals, in addition to a huge collection of valuable electronic resources, rare books, maps, manuscripts, microforms, graphic and audio-visual materials. The library system of Columbia University consists of 22 libraries and different academic technology centers. The library organization is located on the university's Morningside Heights campus in New York City and has a staff of over 450 professional employees.
Indiana University Bloomington boasts an amazing library system of 24 libraries that house about 10 million books. In 2009 the Association of College and Research Libraries ranked the Indiana University Bloomington Library System the top American research library system.
When speaking about the largest libraries it should be noted that the largest library outside of the continental U.S. is the Hawaii State Public Library that houses 3,776,405 volumes. The largest academic library outside the continental U. S. is also in Hawaii - the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library that contains 3,602,058 volumes.
The USA also boasts some of the best college libraries that inspire students to acquire new knowledge and learn with pleasure.