What is the biggest storage of books and other printed documents in the world?

The two biggest collections of books and other printed materials in the world are the Library of Congress (which is in effect the national library of the USA) and the British Library.

The Library of Congress has reported that its collection of 150 million books, papers and documents fills about 745 miles of shelving while the British Library near Euston says it has a mere 388 miles of shelves with only 25 million books.

But when we look not just at “books” but at all the stored “items” it is reported that there are 160 million items in all known languages and formats in the British library. This includes not only books but also  journals, newspapers, magazines, recordings, patents, maps, prints and drawings. Indeed the British Library holds and stores manuscripts and historical documents dating back to 300BC.

Publishers have a legal obligation to provide The British Library with a copy of each new book that is produced, and so the Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, including all books published outside the British Isles but distributed in the UK.

As if that were not enough, to keep the collection up, the Library purchases many items which are only published outside Britain and Ireland.  As a result it adds about three million items every year.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things about the Library is that it is in principle open to everyone who has a genuine need to use its collections.

Fortunately most of us don’t have storage needs that are quite as large as the British Library, but we do, like the BL, need to know that our printed material is safe and secure, and that we can access it quickly when needed.

Which is what Admiral provides.

You can find out more at our website.

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