Big Books

So, there I am watching National Treasure and they brag that the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Something in the back of my mind decided that was wrong. The British Library, which is much older, must be larger I was thinking. Two minutes of surfing shows the Americans are bragging, again.

The Library of Congress itself claims to be the largest library in the world, with more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 58 million manuscripts. It’s even in the Guiness World Records as the largest library in the world.

Well, they don’t seem to be very clever with their space. You see, they have roughly 530 miles of shelves, for 130 million items. The British Library manages to get its 150 million items onto just 625 km (390 miles) of shelf space. Read it and weep, the Brits win again. Library size is dictated by the number of items in it, not how much shelf space you have.