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Harvard Library

Harvard Library

1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge (MA), 02138, United States

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Description The Harvard Library system comprises about 73 libraries, with more than 18 million volumes. It is the oldest library system in the United States and the largest university library and largest private library system in the world. Based on number of items held (including musical scores, maps, prints, recordings, etc.), it is the fifth largest library in the United States; based only on volumes (generally books), it is the third largest, after the Library of Congress and Boston Public Library.HistoryHarvard's library system grew from a bequest in 1638 by John Harvard of 400 books.The location of the library changed over time. Originally it was in the Old College building. In 1676, the library was moved to Harvard Hall, which was where it remained until the building burnt down during the fire in 1764. A new Harvard Hall was built. As time went on space became limited in Harvard Hall, and the library was moved to Gore Hall in 1841. Eventually, Gore Hall was no longer suitable and the books were moved elsewhere in 1912. Around this time, the library spread into more than one building. Some of the libraries were devoted to specialized topics.Over the next century the library grew to become the largest in America, but on January 24, 1764, a major fire destroyed almost all of Harvard's books and scientific instruments. All of the books in the library at the time of the fire were completely burned. The books that had been loaned out when the fire occurred were the only portion of the collection that remained. Books and donations were offered by friends of the college to replace its collections. An eccentric Englishman, Thomas Hollis V of Lincoln's Inn, London, (great-nephew of one of the University's early benefactors), began shipping thousands of specially chosen volumes to the University Library. Hollis continued to send books regularly until his death in 1774 and he also bequeathed £500 for a fund to continue buying books. This became Harvard's first endowed book fund, and

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