The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held

ALA Library Fact Sheet 22

This fact sheet lists the top 100 largest libraries in the United States by volumes held.

For lists of the largest public libraries only, see ALA Library Fact Sheet 13 - The Nation's Largest Public Libraries: Top 25 Rankings, which lists the top 25 public libraries in the United States by population served, by library collection, by circulation, and by library visits.

See below for definitions of "volume" for both public libraries and academic (college and university) libraries.

Number Source Library Name Volumes Held
1 L Library of Congress 34,528,818
2 P+A Boston Public Library (Branches + Research Collections) 19,090,261
3 A Harvard University 16,832,952
4 P+A New York Public Library (Branches + Research Collections) 16,342,365
5 A University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign 13,158,748
6 A Yale University 12,787,962
7 A University of California - Berkeley 11,545,418
8 A Columbia University 11,189,036
9 A University of Michigan 10,778,736
10 A University of Texas - Austin 9,990,941

11 A University of Chicago 9,837,021
12 A University of California - Los Angeles 9,151,964
13 P Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County 8,819,759
14 A Indiana University 8,677,974
15 S Stanford University 8,500,000
16 A University of Wisconsin - Madison 8,421,198
17 A Cornell University 8,173,778
18 A Princeton University 7,226,744
19 A University of Washington 7,203,156
20 A University of Minnesota 7,111,311

21 P Detroit Public Library 7,070,433
22 A University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 7,012,787
23 P County of Los Angeles Public Library 6,795,552
24 P Queens Borough Public Library 6,544,609
25 P Los Angeles Public Library 6,459,552
26 A University of Pennsylvania 6,438,305
27 A Duke University 6,174,814
28 A Ohio State University 6,161,657
29 A University of Pittsburgh 6,148,036
30 A University of Arizona 5,998,148

31 P Chicago Public Library 5,790,289
32 A University of Oklahoma 5,662,666
33 A Michigan State University 5,609,761
34 A University of Virginia 5,607,915
35 P San Diego Public Library 5,535,415
36 A University of Iowa 5,490,825
37 A Pennsylvania State University 5,441,121
38 A New York University 5,382,424
39 A Northwestern University 5,047,970
40 P Free Library Of Philadelphia 5,043,943

41 P Dallas Public Library 4,972,494
42 P Hennepin County Library 4,961,514
43 A University of Georgia 4,810,192
44 A Rutgers University 4,722,407
45 A University of Colorado 4,681,261
46 A Texas A&M University 4,577,498
47 A Arizona State University 4,497,114
48 A University of Florida 4,414,450
49 A University of Cincinnati 4,379,445
50 A North Carolina State University 4,332,899

51 A Washington University - St. Louis 4,323,958
52 A University of Kansas 4,318,644
53 A Brigham Young University 4,292,056
54 P Cleveland Public Library 4,273,202
55 P Brooklyn Public Library 4,233,304
56 A Brown University 4,187,257
57 A University of Southern California 4,180,515
58 A University of California - Davis 4,175,047
59 A Tulane University 4,155,793
60 A Louisiana State University 4,128,626

61 A University of Connecticut 4,096,396
62 P King County Library System 4,044,907
63 A State University of New York - Buffalo 4,029,865
64 A Temple University 3,990,379
65 A University of South Carolina 3,963,958
66 A University of Maryland 3,930,013
67 A University of Kentucky 3,915,579
68 A University of California - San Diego 3,830,802
69 A University of Rochester 3,826,916
70 P Hawaii State Public Library System 3,776,405

71 A Johns Hopkins University 3,701,215
72 A University of Massachusetts - Amherst 3,697,796
73 P Miami-Dade Public Library System 3,674,651
74 A University of Notre Dame 3,673,092
75 A Wayne State University 3,655,805
76 A Emory University 3,619,813
77 A University of Hawaii 3,602,058
78 A University of Missouri - Columbia 3,561,607
79 A University of Alabama 3,533,794
80 A Vanderbilt University 3,531,208

81 A University of Nebraska - Lincoln 3,500,601
82 P Broward County Libraries Division 3,477,312
83 A Auburn University 3,472,547
84 A Oklahoma State University 3,468,428
85 A Georgetown University 3,461,170
86 A University of Utah 3,441,965
87 A University of New Mexico 3,430,200
88 P Mid-Continent Public Library 3,419,516
89 P Allen County Public Library 3,412,830
90 P Saint Louis Public Library 3,352,775

91 A University of Miami 3,348,622
92 A University of Tennessee - Knoxville 3,330,181
93 A Syracuse University 3,291,384
94 P Cuyahoga County Public Library 3,252,456
95 A University of California - Irvine 3,223,679
96 P Buffalo & Erie County Public Library 3,211,709
97 A Southern Illinois University - Carbondale 3,203,455
98 A MIT/Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3,119,157
99 A University of California - Riverside 3,066,630
100 P Houston Public Library 3,061,773



L=Library of Congress - Annual Report, FY 2011 - Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress: For the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2011. Member of Association of Research Libraries (ARL

A= ARL Statistics 2009-10. Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

P= PLAmetrics (FY 2011). Public Library Association (PLA, a division of the American Library Association).

P+A= PLAmetrics (FY 2011) plus ARL Statistics 2009-10: Both the Boston Public Library and the New York Public Library appear on both reports, reporting their public library collection number in the former and their research library collection number in the latter. For accuracy in counting these institution's true holdings, these collection numbers have been added together.

S= Stanford Facts: Libraries & Computing. Former member of ARL.


Users should be aware that public library and academic library collections are dissimilar.

The ARL academic library study takes its definition of volume from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO): A single physical unit of any printed, typewritten, handwritten, mimeographed, or processed work, distinguished from other units by a separate binding, encasement, portfolio, or other clear distinction, which has been cataloged, classified, and made ready for use, and which is typically the unit used to charge circulation transactions. Either a serial volume is bound, or it comprises the serial issues that would be bound together if the library bound all serials. ARL has been modifying the interpretation of the standard definitions to address questions posed by library staff at various member institutions that complete the survey and with feedback from the ARL Statistics and Assessment Committee (PDF; page 98). Include duplicates and bound volumes of periodicals. For purposes of this questionnaire, unclassified bound serials arranged in alphabetical order are considered classified. Exclude microforms, maps, nonprint materials, and uncataloged items. Include government document volumes that are accessible through the library’s catalogs regardless of whether they are separately shelved. Include e-book units, as long as these e-books are owned or leased and have been cataloged by your library. Include electronic books purchased through vendors such as NetLibrary® or Books 24x7, and e-books that come as part of aggregate services. Include individual titles of e-book sets that are treated as individual reference sources. Include locally digitized electronic books and electronic theses and dissertations. Include volumes purchased collectively where the cost is shared at the time of purchase.

The PLAmetrics public library report defines "holdings" on its worksheet (PDF): For the purpose of this data service, holdings will be defined as the number of cataloged items (number of items, not number of titles). Include print materials (including periodicals), electronic books, audio materials, and video materials acquired as part of the collection and cataloged, whether purchased, leased, licensed, or donated as gifts.


NOTE: Previous versions of this fact sheet can be accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine using the original URL <>.


Last updated: October 2012


For more information on this or other fact sheets, including copies of previous versions, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail:; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.