The US has some of the largest libraries in the world. The Library of Congress is by far the largest in the US, according to the volumes it holds. The majority of the top ten largest libraries are affiliated to universities. Some public libraries are among the largest, and although they are not affiliated with any university, they can be referred as academic libraries as well. In fact, in the top ten, only three are not affiliated with any university, and they are the Library of Congress, the Boston public Library, and New York public library.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the US holding 34, 528, 818 items. It encompasses three buildings on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, and Packard campus in Virginia. Underground passageways interconnect all the three buildings. The collections within the library are not limited to any subject, format or any country. It has collections from different parts of the world in more than 450 languages and more than half of the books it receives in a year are in languages other than English.
Initially, the Library of Congress was in New York and Philadelphia and moved to Washington DC in 1800. Between1888 and 1894 library building was extended in a Beaux-arts style with many decorations that included paintings, murals, marble halls, carved hardwood and other elegant decorations.The underground floors were built using steel and cast irons while upper rooms have stained glass domes to enhance aesthetic appearance.
Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library in Massachusetts is the second largest library in the US holding 19, 090, 261 volumes of cataloged materials. It is a municipal public library and was founded in 1848. It is also known as the library of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and all the adult citizens of the Commonwealth are entitled to borrow materials and other research privileges. It is the biggest municipal public library in the US and is a member of Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The library has strengths in arts, art history, and American history. Because of the volumes the library holds a variety of subjects, it is one the five most important libraries in the US, and the other four are the Library of Congress, the New York public Library, the university library of Yale and Harvard University library. In 1888 Charles Follen McKim architects designed the extension of the library fashioning it on Bibliotheque Nationale in France and had the look of the Renaissance style architecture and is known as the Mckim building.
Harvard University Library
Harvard University Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts is the third largest library in the US with 16, 832, 952 cataloged materials. There are more than 70 libraries that all make the Harvard Library system, and it is the oldest library in the US. It is also the largest University library in the US and the largest private library in the world.The Library had its beginning in 1638 when John Harvard donated 400 books. The library was razed by fire in 1764 destroying all the books and other materials in the library. Only the books that were loaned out remained undestroyed. The library was rebuilt, and many people made donations of books to restock the library again. By 1912 there was more than one building devoted to library services and over the years several other branches of the library were established. Harvard library board is part of the governing body, and they are responsible for reviewing and assessing the strategic plans of the Harvard University library. The board is chaired by the Provost and is composed of six permanent members and five members who serve for three years on a rotational basis.