Statistics of twenty leading libraries in this country show that of over $500,000 spent, a little more than $170,000 was devoted to books, while other expenses consumed $358,000. In the Mercantile Library of New York city it cost 14 cents to circulate a volume; in the Astor 141/2 cents are spent on each volume, or 27 cents on each reader; in Columbia College Library, 211/2 cents per reader; in the Library Company of Philadel-delphia, 26 cents per volume, or 10 cents per head. The largest library in the world is the National Library of France, founded by Louis XIV, which now contains 1,400,000 books, 300,000 pamphlets, 175,000 manuscripts, 300,000 maps and charts, 150,000 coins and medals, 1,300,000 engravings, and 100,000 portraits. The Library of Congress is the largest in this country, as it contained 570,000 volumes in 1886. The Mercantile Library of Philadelphia was the seventh in point of size in this country in the same year. There are in the United States 5,338 libraries.
The famous institution called the British Museum began with the purchase by the government for $100,000 of the magnificent library and collection of Sir Hans Sloane, which has since been constantly added to, and now contains a million and a half printed volumes. It now comprises the Cottonian, the Harlean, the Towney, the Elgin, the Knight, the Slade, and other collections. In 1881 the Natural History, Geological and Mineral-ogical Collections were removed to a new building at South Kensington.
The famous Bodleian Library was originally the public library of Oxford University, restored by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1598. His first act was the presentation of a large collection of valuable books, purchased on the Continent at an expense of $50,000. By the Copyright Act it is entitled to a copy of every book printed in Great Britain. The number of volumes it possesses is estimated at about four hundred thousand, in addition to between twenty thousand and thirty thousand in manuscript.