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What are the 50 Largest American Public Library Systems? Part IX

The fiftieth-largest public library in terms of print holdings is the Tulsa City-County Library System. Originally, I had the Tulsa City-County Library System (T.C.C.L.S.) ranked in thirty-first place in a tie with the Salt Lake County Library System, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, and the Newark Public Library. The Tulsa City-County Library System, which has 1,600,000 books, 1,573 electronic books, 99,796 audio materials, and 3,352 print subscriptions.

As of June 6, 2014, it reported a collection of 1,780,762 volumes. The T.C.C.L.S. has a Central Library, four regional libraries, and eighteen branch libraries. It also has Librarium, a fully-functional library branch that is a testing facility.

For example, the books and other materials are arranged by subject like in a bookstore instead of in accordance with the Dewey Decimal System. It has something we have come to expect of public library systems in large cities and their suburbs: large numbers of publicly-accessible desktop computers and Wi-Fi for people who bring in their own laptops and mobile devices. One can borrow tablet computers.

Librarium has self-service Seattle’s Best coffee vending. It has self-service machines for borrowing and returning books. More importantly, it has the self-service Business Center, which is helpful to owners of small businesses. Most significantly, it has a Maker’s Space like the Chicago Public Library.

I gathered statistics for this list from the American Library Association (A.L.A.);, Inc., which gathered the statistics from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (I.M.L.S.); Mazeer Mohammad’s list of “Top 10 Biggest Libraries in the World;” and directly from the Toronto Public Library. I gave the greatest weight to figures cited by Marshall Breeding’s “Public Libraries in the United States” profiles on his Library Technology Guides because they have been updated within the last few months. In a few cases, I was able to gather statistics directly from libraries.

To put these statistics for the largest American public libraries in context, the Toronto Public Library has a collection of 11,000,000 items, including books, CDs, and DVDs in forty languages. The Library of Congress has 35,914,864 cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages 23,276,091 cataloged books, and 12,638,773 large-type books, books with raised characters, and incunabula (books printed before 1501). It also has 68,118,899 manuscripts, 3,420,599 audio materials, 5,478,123 maps, 16,746,497 microforms, 6,589,199 pieces of sheet music, 1,354,126 moving images, 13,640,325 photographs, 104,270 posters, and 605,547 prints and drawings, as of the 2012 Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress For the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2012.

The National Library of China has 22,000,000 books, the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg has 20,000,000 books, the National Library of Canada has 18,800,000 books, the German National Library has 18,500,000 books, the British National Library has 16,000,000 books, the Institute for Scientific Information of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow has 13,500,000 books, and the Vernadsky National Scientific Library of Ukraine in Kiev has 13,000,000 books. The State Library of the Free State of Bavaria has 9,809,000 volumes, 93,800 manuscripts, and 20,000 incunabula.

Also, according to the A.L.A.’s “Facts and Figures,” eight of the ten largest libraries in the U.S.A. are university libraries. The Harvard University Library is the second largest library with 15,826,570 volumes, Yale University Library is the fourth-largest library with 12,368,757 volumes, the University Library of the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign is the fifth-largest library with 10,524,935 volumes, the University of California – Berkeley Library is the sixth-largest library with 10,094,417 volumes, the Columbia University Libraries constitute the seventh-largest library with 9,455,312 volumes, the University of Texas at Austin Library is the eighth-largest library with 9,022,363 volumes, the University of Michigan Library (MLibrary) is the ninth-largest library with 8,273,050 volumes, and the Stanford University Libraries constitute the tenth-largest library with 8,200,000 volumes.


An alert reader pointed out that as of 2010-11, MLibrary had 12,438,418 volumes, an increase of 4,165,368 of (roughly 50%). MLibrary is bigger than The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County (#3 on this list) and smaller than the Boston Public Library #2), at least as far as I can ascertain. I am posting this update on Thursday, June 12, 2014.

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