5 Fun Facts About Libraries
The Oldest Public Library: The Bibliotheque de Paris (Library of Paris), combined with the National Library of France, is the oldest continually running public library. It dates back to 1368 (which makes this year its 650th anniversary!) when it was housed at the Louvre. It has moved multiple times over the past several hundred year, into ever newer and larger accommodations.
The Largest Library: The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., with more than 158 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, is the largest library in the world. The library’s collection includes more than 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts.
The Highest Library: According to Guinness World Records, the highest library in the world is on the 60th floor (757′ 6″ above street level) of the JW Marriott Hotel at Tomorrow Square in Shanghai, China. Membership is available to the public and the 103 shelves in the library contain an ever-expanding collection of Chinese and English books. To walk to the library from the hotel lobby would mean climbing around 1,435 steps.
The First Librarian: The first librarian, or at least the first one we know about for sure (please forgive the uncertainty, he lived 2,300 years ago), was Zenodotus of Ephesus. He was a Greek grammarian, pupil of Philitas of Cos, literary critic, and Homeric scholar. All of that must have impressed someone because he was made the first official librarian of the Library of Alexandria towards the end of King Ptolemy I’s reign, somewhere around 280 BC.
We’re Everywhere: Think of something ubiquitous, a store or restaurant that you can pretty much count on encountering everywhere you go but the most remote and out of the way places. What’d you come up with? Walgreens? Starbucks? McDonalds? No matter what you thought of, there are probably more public libraries in the U.S. There are a total of 17,566 public library locations, including branches, across the country. And you are welcome at all of them.