If you think your school library has a lot of books, wait until you learn about the Library of Congress!
Have you ever wondered…
- Where is the largest library in the world?
- When was the Library of Congress built?
- How many books does the Library of Congress have?
Did you know?
Do you ever have trouble finding a particular book or resource in your school library? It’s OK if you do. Most libraries have tons of books, and librarians are there to help you find the things you need.
If you think your school library has a lot of books, though, wait until you learn about the world’s largest library. Its amazing collection of books and resources will blow your mind!
What library are we talking about? The Library of Congress, of course! Built in 1800 in Washington, D.C., it’s the largest library in the world in both shelf space and number of books.
The Library of Congress is the official research library of the United States Congress. It’s also considered to be the national library of the U.S. It currently consists of three buildings in the nation’s capital.
When it was first started, the Library of Congress was housed in the U.S. Capitol. It stayed there throughout most of the 1800s until it moved to its current site.
Most of the library’s original collection was destroyed during the War of 1812. Thomas Jefferson replenished the library’s collection, though, by selling his entire personal book collection — over 6,000 books! — to the library in 1815 for $23,950 (that was A LOT of money way back then).
Over time, the Library of Congress continued to expand. Eventually it came to consist of the three buildings it is housed in today. Its main purpose is to research issues for members of Congress.
The Library of Congress is open to the public, but very few people are allowed to check out books. These privileged few include library employees, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and other high-ranking government officials.
The Library of Congress holds much more than just books. Its various collections include more than 150 million items on over 800 miles of bookshelves. These items include over 34 million books, over 3 million recordings, over 13 million photographs, over 5 million maps, over 6 million pieces of sheet music and over 66 million manuscripts!
Among these millions of items are some of the most interesting and rare books in the world. In fact, the Library of Congress has over 700,000 rare books, which is the largest collection in North America.
The smallest book in the Library of Congress is Old King Cole. Measuring 1/25 inches by 1/25 inches, it’s about the size of a period at the end of a sentence. Its pages can only be turned using a needle!
The largest book in the Library of Congress is a 5 foot by 7 foot picture book featuring thousands of color images of the country of Bhutan. The Library also has one of only three perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible, which is one of the most valuable books in the world.
Try it out!
Ready to check out your local library? It may not be the largest library in the world. In fact, it might be quite small. But that’s OK. Even the smallest library can offer valuable information and exciting adventures.
If you don’t already have a library card, ask for one! A librarian will be happy to get you signed up, so you can take advantage of your local library’s resources.
If you don’t know the depth of offerings available at your local library, ask for a tour. A librarian can show you that there’s so much more than books available.
Many libraries have music and movies to check out, as well as computers to use. There may also be special events, including story times and even arts and crafts classes.
So get to know your local library! Where else can you borrow great books, beautiful music and interesting movies for free?
Wonder words to know and use:
Visit EDSITEment! to learn more about the Folger Shakespeare Library, a British research institution that contains authentic editions of Shakespeare’s works!