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Most famous libraries in the world

Library (greek βιβλιοθήκη from βιβλίον “book” and θήκη “storing place”) is the structure where books and scripts are collected for public use and reference and bibliographic work is realized. Libraries are integral part of a country and nation. They reflect the human necessity for knowledge accumulation and augmentation, cultural and intellectual development.

Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina)

The most famous ancient library founded under the Musaeum of Alexandria (temple or sanctuary) is one of the main scientific and cultural centers of the ancient world. Egyptian libraries were in temples under the care of priests. Books were rolls made of papyrus. Library of Alexandria in Egypt was one of the largest libraries of the antique world. It contained about 750 000 scrolls.

Nowadays it is the main library of Egypt, cultural center situated on the seashore of the Mediterranean in the city of Alexandria. This library is the memorial of the library of Alexandria destroyed in ancient times and modern science and education center at the same time.

Library of the Academy of Science (BAN) in Saint-Petersburg

It was founded in 1714 by the order of Peter the Great. The library’s task is to preserve historic documents valuable for the humankind and to realize the information support for Russian scientific and technical development.

Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh

This is a library of the last great king of Assyria, known as a collector of ancient written scripts. The library of more than 20 thousand of clay tablets with historical, religious, magical and scientific texts was founded during the archeological excavations in Nineveh in 1849-1859.

Garrison Library in Gibraltar

The library was officially opened in 1803 by the Duke of Kent. Today it’s a modern library of more than 35 000 books including rare samples.

Duchess Anna Amalia Library (Weimar, Germany)

The library is situated in Weimar and mostly known as Goethe’s Library: the poet was its regular visitor from 1797 to 1832. The library is famous for its largest Faust collection, rich collection of musical manuscripts, great collection of handwritten books and ancient maps. Library’s archives were severely damaged in a fire in 2004. Today the library building is completely restored.

John Rylands University Library in Manchester

There are more than 4 million books and manuscripts, more than 41 000 electronic magazines and 500 000 electronic books, several hundreds of different databases. The archives of the library make it one of the best academic libraries of the country. 

Library of Congress, the USA

Library of Congress in Washington is one of the largest libraries in history. There are more than 75 million items, including books, photos, notes, and musical compositions. The library was opened in 1800 when the total value of its books was 5 thousand dollars.

The National library of the USA (Washington, DC) is a scientific base of the USA Congress. It mainly serves the state structures, scientific and research institutions, scientists and schools.

Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) in Florence

It is one of the largest libraries of the Renaissance with a collection of valuable manuscripts and books. It is a part of San Lorenzo complex. It was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

Oxford Library (Bodleian Library)

One of the oldest libraries in the world is named after Sir Thomas Bodleian. It comprises the central Bodleian library and eight subsidiary libraries. The library collection is used by the scientists from all over the world.

St Florian Library, Austria

The library is located in the eastern side wing of St Florian Abbey. It had been built from 1744 to 1750 by G. Hayberger. The library ceiling is painted by B. Altomonte and the rococo gallery stretches along the walls.

Fisher Library, Sydney  University 

The Fisher Library is the main library of the Sydney University which contains the largest book repository in the southern Hemisphere. There are more than 2 million books. The modern library consists of the two joining buildings built during the University foundation.

British Library

It is the national library of Great Britain. It is one of the largest libraries in the world with more than 150 million books.

Wallenrodt Library

It is the book repository of Koenigsberg (modern Kaliningrad) in the 17th-20th centuries.  In the middle of the 19th century, the library funds contained about 10, ooo books and manuscripts. It was destroyed during the Great Patriotic War.

Vatican Library

 It was founded in the 15th century by the Pope Nicholas V together with the St Laurents library. Later on it was extended especially during the Pius IV era.

Staatsbibliothek, the State Library in Berlin

It is the cultural heritage of Prussia. The library contains more than 10 million books. Apart from its main function the library also makes the list of incunabula (books that were printed before the year 1501 in Europe) and provides interregional literary and information support.  Though it has been 60 years since the end of  World War 2, a part of evacuated funds are still kept in the libraries of Eastern Europe and they still try to return them.

The Royal Library of Belgium (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique)

It is known as Albertina and is the national scientific library of Belgium. Its main mission is to collect and preserve all the editions issued in Belgium and works of the Belgians living abroad. It also contains a large number of foreign books.

The Royal Library of Denmark (Det Kongelige Bibliotek)

The library was built in 1673 and is one of the largest libraries in Scandinavia. It includes 2,5 million books and original manuscripts of Hans Kristian Andersen. The library addition contains 2 million books, a book store, restaurant, six reading halls, assembly hall and 600 seats concert hall.

Cambridge University Library

The Cambridge University Library was first mentioned in 1416. At present time, there are more than 7 million books including Gutenberg Bible, Darvin’s letters, Isaac Newton’s notes ad archive of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

National Library of Belarus

It is situated in the eastern part of Minsk and is one of the largest libraries in the world. Nowadays it comprises over 13 million multimedia units.

National Library in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

It is one of the largest and oldest libraries in the world. It was founded in 1480 as the Royal Library, and in 1795 it became a National Convention. The library attendance is allowed to people with university diplomas or references from a research institute. Together with the Sorbonne library it catalogs French and foreign periodicals of the 45 largest university libraries of France. 

New York Public Library

It is one of the greatest libraries in the world, and is often referred to as a museum-library. At present time, there are more than 43, 3 million scientific documents and 15, 5 million books. Apart from books, it contains pictures, plates, engravings of famous and little known artists granted together with books.

Russian State Library (former Lenin Library), Moscow

It was founded on the basis of Rumyantsev Museum and is one of the largest libraries in the world. It celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2008. The library contains more than 42 million items.

Free Library of Philadelphia

The library has over 55 subsidiaries and contains 5,1 million books. It was opened in March 1894 under the motto "the public library should be free for everyone".

Last Updated on Monday, 15 December 2014 12:31  

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