Culture & Travel

8 October 2020
World’s Largest Library: American Library of Congress

The third American President, also one of the founding fathers of the USA, Thomas Jefferson said “Information is Power”. Thomas Jefferson, the owner of this important quote we have heard in many movies and books over the years, has a special place for the world’s largest library.

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the capital of the USA, is known to be the largest library in the world. Here is how Thomas Jefferson contributed to the subject: The library was founded in 1800 but most of the works in the collection were burnt or damaged during the 1812 war with the British. The library started growing again only after the 6,487 books from Jefferson’s personal library had joined the Library of Congress. In this sense, the world’s largest library is based on Jefferson’s personal library.                           

Being the home to over 168 million works, the library has more works than the total number of three libraries that follow it. Almost 22 thousand new works are taken in the archives of the Library of Congress. 10 thousand books out of these are recorded among the permanent works of the library. Collecting books from over 60 countries with its branch offices around the world, the library has works in 470 languages.

Consisting of a total of three buildings, the Library of Congress has the largest collections in the world in different subjects. One of the busiest sections is without a doubt the legal section, because it also serves the American Congress. The legal collection with three million works is unmatched in the world. In addition to various collections like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the library is unbelievably rich in various subjects from music to archeological data, from instruments to newspapers.

The library is also home to one of the first copies of the Bible printed in the printing house of Gutenberg, the founder of press. There are over 700 thousand works in the “rare books” collection. The oldest printing sample in the library is a Buddhist text in Sanskritic from 770 BC. The oldest written text in the library is a tablet of cuneiform script from 2040 BC. We need to mention that the first initiatives for handicapped readers were taken in this library. So much so that the Braille alphabet was found in this library between 1898 and 1899.

With over 3 thousand employees, 2018 budget of the Library of Congress was about USD 670 million. The bookshelves in the library measures 1,349 kilometers. The Library of Congress draws great attention from researchers and bookworms as well as the tourists visiting the city.