List of World’s Largest Libraries

Largest Libraries in the World is an important topic for the General Awareness section of Government exams or other competitive exams.  

Candidates appearing for exams such as SSC, RRB, Bank, or other government examinations might encounter 1-2 questions related to libraries of the world in the general knowledge section of these examinations.

Candidates can check the relevant link for assistance in government exam preparation:

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This article will read about the list of the largest libraries in the world. Candidates will also know about the largest libraries in India.

The list of largest libraries in the world is available in PDF format. Candidates can download the list of largest libraries PDF given below.

List of Largest Libraries in the World PDF:-Download PDF Here

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List of Largest Libraries in the World

British Library in the United Kingdom is the world’s largest library in terms of its catalogue size i.e. the number of books, periodicals, etc it manages.

The table given below highlights the World largest libraries based on their catalogue size. It includes libraries that store 15 million or more items.

Largest Libraries in the World
Name & Country Location Catalogue size
British Library, United Kingdom London and Boston Spa 170–200 million
Library of Congress, United States Washington D.C. 170 million+
Library and Archives, Canada Ottawa 54 million
Shanghai Library, China Shanghai 50 million
Russian State Library, Russia Moscow 47.2 million
Royal Danish Library, Denmark Copenhagen and Aarhus 42.5 million
National Diet Library, Japan Tokyo and Kyoto 41.9 million
Bibliothèque Nationale de France Paris 40 million
National Library of China Beijing 37.7 million
National Library of Russia Saint Petersburg 36.5 million
German National Library, Germany Leipzig and Frankfurt 36.1 million
Biblioteca Nacional de España, Spain Madrid 33.1 million
Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia Saint Petersburg 26.5 million
Berlin State Library, Germany Berlin 23.4 million
Boston Public Library, United States Boston, Massachusetts 22.4 million
New York State Library, United States Albany, New York 20 million
Harvard Library, United States Cambridge, Massachusetts 18.9 million
National Library of Sweden Stockholm 18 million
Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine Kiev 15.5 million
Yale Library, United States New Haven, Connecticut 15.2 million
National Library of Iran Tehran 15 million

Reference – Wikipedia []

Now that you know the largest libraries of the world, let’s take a look at largest libraries in India.

Largest Libraries in the Ancient World

Libraries were highly revered as the storehouse of knowledge, ideas and creativity. Some libraries represented the cultural power of their respective empires and as such their knowledge stored in them were jealously guarded. We will present some of the well known libraries of the ancient world.

1. Great Library of Alexandria

The Great Library of Alexandria is one of the most important libraries in classical antiquity. Over the centuries it had gained almost mythical status as a universal library where all the scholars of the ancient time would visit to share and gain knowledge. The library, located within the Royal Palace of Alexandria was built around 295 BCE by Ptolemy I

Alexandria is a port city in Northern Egypt founded by the legendary conqueror Alexander the Great. The library of Alexandria hosted a series of shrines, lecture areas, a zoo and living quarters. The great works of philosophers such as Homer, Plato and Socrates were stored in its great hall. It eventually became the storehouse of knowledge that housed rare works which were the only copies.

The Great Library of Alexandria was completely destroyed during the Roman intervention in the Egyptian civil war in 48 BC. The destruction ensured that many precious works of knowledge were lost forever.

2. The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal is named after the King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Ashurbanipal. He was the last great king of the empire which comprised modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and parts of Iran. King Ashurbanipal was a passionate collector of texts and tablets which today gave details of day-to-day life in the ancient world.

At least 30,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments were recovered from the ruine and are now housed in the British Museum. They were discovered in 1849 and are now considered crucial to the modern study of the ancient Near East.

3. Imperial Library of Constantinople.

The Imperial Library of Constantinople in itself is a mystery as very little is known about it. Regardless, what is known is that the Roman Emperor Constantius II in 357 CE undertook measures to preserve many Judaeo-Christian scriptures that were deteriorating as they were written on papyrus scrolls.

In addition he also preserved many scripts that were written by ancient Romans and Greeks. The majority of Greek classics that are known today come from the Imperial Library of Constantinople. Over the years the library would be subject to many fires that would destroy many volumes. In the year 473 CE alone, about 120,000 volumes were burnt.

The final blow would come in 1204 when the Crusader army sacked Constantinople burning many parts of the city, although modern historians do assess that no record of the library existed then and some manuscripts may have survived into the Ottoman Empire era.

4. University of Taxila

The University of Taxila is one of the oldest universities in the world, believed to have begun somewhere between the 5th and the 2nd centuries BC. It was a centre of learning and knowledge, and due to its location – at a pivotal junction between South and Central Asia along the Grand Trunk Road – students from many parts of the ancient world came to study at it.

The university is mentioned in several ancient languages such as Greek and Chinese. The Taxila University was at its zenith during the Mauryan Empire and continued to be after the decline of the empire until the invasion of the Alchon Huns under Toramana in the 6th century AD led to its destruction.

Today it is a protected archaeological site, closely managed so that this piece of cultural heritage can continue to be studied.

5. The Celsus Library

Located in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) the Celsus Library was built in 110 CE by Gaius Julius Aquila. It stored 12,000 scrolls and also served as a mausoleum for Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. The architecture of this still-standing library is quite incredible and a typical example of the style prevalent in the period under Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE). Statues and items excavated from the Celsus Library are now on display in the Museum of Istanbul.

Largest Libraries in India List 

Do you know which is the Largest Library in India? or Do you know the name of the oldest library in India?

The State Central Library, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala established in 1829 is the very first public library in India and the National Library Of India, Kolkata established in 1836 is the largest library of India. 

The table below enlists India’s largest library by volume, prominence, along with their establishment year:

Largest Libraries In India 
Library Name Est. Year Prominence
The National Library of India, Kolkata 1836 26,41,615 books along with other periodicals, maps, manuscripts etc 
Delhi Public Library, New Delhi 1951 18 lakh books in English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi & other Indian Languages
Saraswathi Mahal Library Or Tanjore Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library, Tamil Nadu 1918 A rare collection of palm leaf manuscripts in various regional languages of India.
Anna Centenary Library, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 2010 Collection of 5 lakh books and Braille section for blind readers
Krishnadas Shama Central Library, Goa 1832 Total 1.8 lakh books in different languages & pre-liberation collection are over 40,000 volumes
Allahabad Public Library, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh 1864 1.25 lakh books on various subjects and rare Arabic manuscripts along with papers of Parliament.
Smt. Hansa Mehta Library, Baroda, Gujarat 1950 3,500 precious collection of books dated back to 16th century
Connemara Public Library, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 1896 One of the 4 National Depository Libraries also serves as a depository library for the UN
State Central Library, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 1829 3, 67,243 documents in Sanskrit, Tamil, English, Malayalam, and more

Candidates are advised to download World’s largest libraries PDF given below. The PDF also contains the list of largest libraries in India.

List of Largest Libraries in the World PDF:-Download PDF Here

Candidates preparing for competitive exams can check relevant articles for General Awareness section:

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Largest Libraries in World – Sample Question For General Awareness

To understand the relevance of the topic largest libraries in the World in competitive exams, it is important to know the types of questions asked in the examination based on it. 

Given below are sample question asked in the general awareness section of competitive exams for World’s largest libraries:

Q.1. Where is the world’s largest library?

  1. Russia
  2. France
  3. Denmark
  4. Washington DC

Answer (4) Washington DC

Q.2. Which country has the maximum number of public libraries?

  1. India
  2. Russia
  3. China
  4. United States

Answer (3) China

Q.3. What is the name of the Oldest Library in the World?

  1. Al-Qarawiyyin library
  2. Imperial Library of Constantinople
  3. Royal Library of Ashurbanipal
  4. National Library of Iran

Answer (1) Al-Qarawiyyin library

Q.4. Which is the biggest library of the World?

  1. British Library
  2. Library of congress 
  3. Shanghai Library, China
  4. Royal Danish Library, Denmark

Answer (2) Library Of Congress

Q.5. Which Library has the maximum number of books or catalogues?

  1. Library of Congress, United States
  2. British Library, United Kingdom
  3. Biblioteca Nacional de España, Spain
  4. Harvard Library, United States

Answer (2) British Library, United Kingdom

Apart from the sample questions given above, candidates can check Previous Year Question Papers with solution PDF to understand the type of questions asked in the general awareness section of these examinations.

Frequently Asked Question about World’s Largest Libraries


Which is the world’s largest library?

The Library of Congress, founded in 1800, with 164 million items and 1,350 kilometers of bookshelves, it’s the world’s largest library

Which is the second largest library in the world?

The national library of the United Kingdom, located in London, is the second largest library in the world.

Which is the oldest library in the world?

The world’s oldest known library was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C. for the “royal contemplation” of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. Located in Nineveh in modern day Iraq, the site included a trove of some 30,000 cuneiform tablets organized according to subject matter.

Which country has most libraries?

Currently, China has the largest number of public libraries in the world. According to an OCLC data updated in 2016, there are 51,311 public libraries in China. Coming at the second place is Russia with 46,000 public libraries, while India stands third with 29,800 libraries spread across the entire country.

What city has the most libraries?

When it comes to libraries per capita, Edinburgh leads by quite a bit: The city reported 60 libraries for every 100,000 people. Even going back more than two years, to include cities with older data, Edinburg blew everywhere else out of the water. It has around 300 libraries total, in a city of half a million

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