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About Library World Records

At last a reference book that is only about library and book superlatives:
oldest books... largest libraries... most expensive manuscripts...biggest bookstores...smallest books...largest library budget...first book printed in English...oldest library buildings...largest books published....tallest library buildings...biggest book publisher...oldest bookstore...longest papyrus document...first book printed in Japan...most expensive library building...biggest book fine...first library photo on a postage stamp...largest book theft from a library...first book printed on paper...oldest document written on papyrus...oldest written documents from Sub-Saharan Africa...heaviest book...oldest bookstore in book of all time...first library to use microfilm...etc...etc...etc...

Book Editions

About Library World Records

Library World Records is a fascinating reference book first published in 2004 after research work began on the book in 2002. The book was further extensively updated in a second edition in December 2009. Library World Records provides hundreds of intriguing and comprehensive facts about ancient and modern books, manuscripts and libraries around the world.

A much bigger brand new 3rd edition of the Library World Records is now available for pre-order (details given below). The new edition will be published in March 2017.

N.B. Although it soon becomes obvious from the theme of this book, Library World Records has been called the the Guinness Book of World Records specifically on books, librarians and libraries.

Library World Records provides answers to such questions as:

  • Which universities in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas have the largest libraries?
  • What is the name of oldest public libraries in all of the different continents of the world?
  • In what year was the first CD-ROM book released?
  • What are the names of the oldest texts written in Greek, Celtic and Latin?
  • In what years were the first books printed in French, Hausa, Thai, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Turkish published?
  • What are the name of the oldest extant texts or inscriptions written in Chinese, Hindi, English, German, Russian, Mongolian and Malay?
  • When was the first major computer database used in libraries?
  • What are the titles of the largest, heaviest, smallest and most expensive books ever published?
  • Where in the world are the world’s five busiest public libraries?
  • Which famous horror fiction writesr, prime ministers and movie stars also worked in libraries?
  • What is the name of the first Sub-Saharan African university library founded in the 14th century?
  • What are the titles of the largest journals and magazines in world?
  • Which libraries have the most expensive budgets in the world?
  • Which 200 major movies were filmed in libraries?
  • How many libraries are there in Russia, Germany, France, the U.S., Japan and Egypt?
  • Which libraries in Europe and the U.S. have the oldest copies of the Gutenberg Bible?
  • When were the first 10 university libraries in Asia and the Middle East founded?
  • Where can we find the oldest extant library building in the world?
  • What is the name of the first library in Europe to open 24 hours a day?
  • Even though much of Africa had a strong oral tradition, what is the name of the first major book to be written in Africa, in an African language, south of the Sahara Desert?
  • Which countries publish the largest number of books in the world?
  • What are the names of the first three published books in the world to contain photographs?
  • Where are the tallest bookstores and library buildings in the world?
  • What is the name of the most expensive book theft in the world?
  • What famous book caused its author to be burned at stake for being a heretic?
  • Which famous ruler of England was barred from entering England's most famous library and why?
  • Where in Asia can the largest stone inscriptions be found?
  • Which library in the world was the first to illuminate the library with electric bulbs?
  • What is the name of the list of books that were banned by the Vatican for hundreds of years?
  • What are the names of the oldest surviving papyrus, vellum, parchment and paper manuscripts?
  • Which libraries around the world have more than 500 staff members?
  • What is the name of the very first printed book in the world to have page numbers?
  • What are the names of the first books and illuminated manuscripts to be printed in colour?
  • What are the names of the largest art libraries, history databases, engineering libraries, and geography databases?
  • What are the names of the 100 largest libraries in the world?
  • Finally.... What are the names of the 100 oldest libraries in the world?

These inquisitive questions are just a few samples of over 500 questions, whose answers can be found in second edition of Library World Records, the first specific reference book of its kind to be published in the world covering a wide range of library and book superlatives, and in paperback format.

With more than 410 photographs from around the world on ancient and modern libraries, papyrus, parchment and velum manuscripts, clay and stone inscriptions, incunabula, and famous librarians etc, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of Library World Records offers readers amazing facts and figures about libraries around the world, and the three important things we normally find in them: books, periodicals and databases. The book deals with superlatives and comparative information such as the first, the largest, the oldest, the smallest and other miscellanea covering a period of more than 5000 years.

These hundreds of facts also vividly illustrate the wonder and rich evolution of books and libraries from crude and simple to sophisticated, complex and efficient.

Since its publication in 2004, Library World Records has established itself as an international indispensable reference work on multi-disciplinary superlatives on libraries and books around the world, not just for librarians, researchers and students, but practically anyone who loves reading books or visiting libraries. The 3rd edition of Library World Records builds on what the 2nd edition offered. Updated data plus much more facts, figures and chapters resulting in over 170 extra pages together with brand new photographs from around the world, and a comprehensive and detailed index (over 45 pages) and above all an expanded and updated edition. Although the book is aimed at librarians and the general public, the 3rd edition will now include extensive lists of sources and further reading, making the 3rd edition invaluable to researchers, students and academics doing projects and dissertations.

There will also be an eBook version of the 3rd edition available from major eBook vendors such as Ebscohost (formerly NetLibrary), Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, OverDrive Media, Apple iBooks, Kobo Books etc.

The latest edition of Library World Records were published by U.S. publisher McFarland & Co.

This is the official author's website for Library World Records. The new 2017 edition is available for pre-order in major bookstores and bookshops around the world. More details about the 3rd edition of Library World Records can also be found at the publishers website, where you can also pre-order it. For access to the McFarland's information on the 3rd edition, click here

You can also pre-order the 3rd edition of Library World Records at or Barnes & Noble bookstores.

For access to Amazon's information on the 3rd edition, click here

For access to Barnes & Noble's information on the 3rd edition, click here

Readers, public libraries, colleges, universities, LIS lecturers and academics in Britain, can pre-order the book from Foyles or Waterstones Bookshops. For access to the Foyles Bookshop information on the 3rd edition, click here

For access to the Waterstones Bookshop information on the 3rd edition, click here

While waiting for the 3rd edition to finally land in March 2017, why not check out the existing 2nd edition from your local public library. Major national and university libraries in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Japan, China/ Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia etc also have the book available to borrow or as a reference material. You can also start to know more about the previous 2nd edition of Library World Records by doing the following:

  • You can read some excerpts taken from the first edition and published in an Asian newspaper, by clicking here. It is the PDF version of a popular English language Asian newspaper excerpt.

  • This newspaper review and other numerous reviews and comments from individuals and librarians around the world, who were among the first to enjoy reading Library World Records 1st and 2nd edtion, are covered in detail at Book Reviews and Comments link above on the left hand corner of this web page.
  • You can view the complete "Table of Contents" of the 2nd edition of Library World Records See Table of Contents link above on the left hand corner of this web page.

  • You can view the complete list of stunning photographs of the many libraries I visited in Europe, Brazil, the U.S., West Africa and Malaysia, while doing research work between 2002 and 2003 for the 1st edition and in 2008 for the second edition. A full list of photographs used in the book is available under Photograph Gallery link above on the left hand corner of this web page. The forthcoming 3rd edition of the book will feature brand new photographs.

  • You can read about me, the author, what made me write the book, how I went about writing the book, as well as reading about other books I am writing at the moment. See About the Author link above on the left hand corner of this web page.

  • You can find out where you can order this fascinating book anywhere in the world. See Book Orders link above on the left hand corner of this web page.

  • You can find out about other books related to my library reference book, which you can read for more information. If you enjoyed reading my book and are curious about certain facts you read about, then see Recommended Books link above on the left hand corner of this web page.

  • I am putting finishing touches to an exciting novel, I have been working on since 2013 in my free time. my first novel is title The Geneva Incident. See My Novels link above on the left hand corner of this web page. I am aiming to finish the new novel in by summer 2017.

  • Finally.., back in 2003 and again in 2007, during research work for the first and second editions of Library World Records , the author sent out e-mails to several Internet-based bulletin boards for librarians around the world, asking for a vote on the most fascinating library buildings in the world they had visited or seen at home or abroad. The results of votes were published in the first and second edition of Library World Records and provided some surprises. I am pleased to say that there is a list of brand new nominations and winners for the 3rd edition of the book. If you were one of the hundreds of librarians who voted in 2014/2015, be sure to check out the 3rd edition of Library World Records , when it is published in March 2017.
  • more thing... I have several blogs on a range of subjects covering my hobbies. Check out the Godfrey's Hobby Blog link above on the left hand corner of this web page. You will be sure to enjoy reading a few of them.

    In the meantime if you have just gotten hold of the 2nd edition, sit back, grab a cool drink and some popcorn and enjoy the book!


    3rd edition (2017): ISBN (13 numbers): 978-1-4766-6777-5. Over 470 pages, 156 new photographs. Includes a detailed bibliography and a 48-page comprehensive index. Paperback (alkaline) edition, 7 x 10 inches. Library of Congress number (tbc).

    Second edition (2009): ISBN (13 numbers): 9780786438525 / ISBN (10 numbers) 0786438525. 328 pages, 151 photographs. Includes bibliography and a 35-page comprehensive index. Paperback (alkaline) edition, 7 x 10 inches. Library of Congress number LC Classification: Z721 .O79 2009.

    Second edition eBook version (from NetLibrary, Apple iBooks (epub) Amazon Kindle (Mobi) and others etc): ISBN (13 numbers): 9780786452941.

    First edition (no longer published, but available at or in secondhand bookshops or maybe on eBay).

    URL :
    Official e-mail:

    Twitter: (personal stuff only, not necessarily library related) @GodfreyOSWALD.

    Official Face Book: No Face Book Account.

    Why Does Your LWRW Website Look So Simple?
    The older parts of such as the link above called Godfrey's 2010 Librarian's Directory with Search Engine dates back to 1995, when I first set up the website, while doing my MSc course at City University. In 1995, websites of course were simple back then, as HTML coding was done manually in those days! The parts of the website devoted to Library World Records date back to 2002. Its just that I am now so used to manual HTML coding (since 1995) using simple text editors, that I cannot wean myself of this old habit and use dedicated website design software to spice up my old website. Around the time, the 3rd edition of Library World Records is published, I will give my website its first major update in over a decade, I will this time use Adobe Dreamweaver or WordPress, So please bear with me :)

    Copyright © 2002-2017 Godfrey Oswald