As you may know, the ALA Library has several pages in its section of the ALA website called “ALA Library Fact Sheets,” which answer fairly common questions about libraries, with sources noted. At some point in our history (and on September 30, we turned 88-years-old!), someone asked what were the top 100 libraries in the country, and we decided to use existing national surveys to respond, ranked by collection size.
The Nation’s Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held is one of our oldest fact sheets, and therefore, as an information entity, one of ALA’s oldest web pages. We’ve always used the annual ARL Statistics survey of the Association of Research Libraries for the number of volumes in academic libraries, and the annual Public Library Data Service (PLDS): Statistical Report of our own Public Library Association for the number of volumes in public libraries. And we’ve always noted: Users should be aware that public library and academic collections are dissimilar.
How each survey defines “volume” is included on the page, and both do now include e-books as well as print books in their counts.