This Saturday the Libraries Day. The 2020 edition of this commemoration, promoted from culture Ministry, will have as motto ‘Libraries, always by your side’ and will focus on highlighting the role of these institutions in providing access to “culture, knowledge and entertainment in any place and circumstance”, as in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic or in the rural world. To celebrate this date, we review some facts, Guinness records and curiosities about libraries in the world.
How many libraries are there?
There are some 2.6 million libraries in the world, according to ‘Library Map of the World’. Asia is the continent with the most, with 1.9 million (India itself has 1.5 million libraries), leaving Europe in second position. Of the 299,887 European libraries, 25,232 are Spanish, according to data from 2016 to 2018. Spain is one of the countries with the most libraries in all of Europe, only surpassed by Poland (29,825), within the European Union (EU) and Ukraine (35,076), out.
Most of the Spanish libraries are school: 17.806. Within Spain, the autonomous communities with the most libraries by number of inhabitants are Catalonia (71.9 per 100 inhabitants), Asturias (62) and Castilla y León (54.4), according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
What is the biggest?
The Library of Congress United States (USA) . It is not only that it is advertised as such, but that has the Guinness record recognizing it. The institution has a total of 170,118,152 objects, divided into various collections. Of these, only 24,863,177 are books. What else do you keep aside from texts? Subjects as diverse as photographs, posters or films, to name a few examples (The ‘National Film Registry’ selects 25 films each year that showcase “the variety and diversity of America’s film heritage” to “raise awareness of its preservation”). It also has maps: a total of 5.5 million of them, giving it another Guinness record, that of being the library with the largest collection of maps in the world. As a comparison, the National Library of Spain has about 35 million documents in its entirety and the National Library of India, the largest of the 1.5 million in the country, has only 2.2 million books.
He Project Gutemberg holds the Guinness record for being the first to go online, doing so in 1971. Since then, many projects have sought to create libraries through the Internet, making material located thousands of kilometers from where it is connected to any user. A good example of this is the Library of Europe, which combines texts from institutions located in member countries of the Council of Europe. Wave UNESCO World Digital Library, one of the most ambitious projects in this regard, which was created from the idea of the former Librarian of the US Congress, James H. Billington, and officially launched in April 2009.
There are older, more modern, more specialized, more exclusive libraries … Reporters Without Borders is focused on journalistic material and it aims to circumvent the Internet censorship imposed by different regimes by being hosted on the popular computer game ‘Minecraft’. It was launched on March 12, 2020 and can be accessed through this link.
The Library of the Future is not even created: its objective is to collect the works of a hundred outstanding authors and publish them within a hundred years. To do this, it will use the paper extracted from the felling of a forest cultivated for that purpose in Oslo, Norway. The project began in 2014 with the planting of the trees and will run until 2114, adding each year a new work by a different author. Once the date arrives, the forest will be cut down and 3,000 copies of each of the 100 manuscripts will be printed.