Most states have a national library, the entire literature of a country or the language area collects as outstanding library, archives and these listed in the Bibliography. According to the UNESCO definition, a national library often has the task to acquire the most important foreign publications. The National Library often takes in librarianship a country's coordinating role.
A national library may be distributed over several sites, the German National Library in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main, or it may be in a state several national libraries. In Russia, there are two national libraries in the UK and Denmark three.
The largest library of its kind, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, is officially only parliamentary library.
National libraries emerged since the advent of National States in the late 18th century in Europe and had its " heyday " in the long 19th century " as a model institution of self-understanding and reassurance of the nation". The historian Jörn Leonhard points out that this process was the expression and motor at the same time held political and social centralization, homogenization and hierarchy, also affecting national myths, knowledge stocks and historical images, and therefore referred to the National Library as a " central place of the imaginary through texts nation. "
Here, the national educational mission was at the forefront to provide a broad and egalitarian understood bourgeois public access. At the same time, which serve as a model English and French institutions were used to transport the supremacy claim of the respective cultural nation and its global mission, which the U.S. and Russian imitators took up.
Due to the expansion and diversification of Sciences, the National Libraries repressed both private scholarly libraries and became the " ultimate authority and the basis of the scientific literature ," by which, despite legal deposit very incomplete collections were compressed in the direction of completeness through purchases (about abandoned monastery libraries ).
In Germany competed because of the political and cultural decentralization, even after the nation-state formation in 1871, Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and later Frankfurt as well as various public and commercial institutions with each other, even if the German national movement always pretended the goal of a " literary Valhalla ".
National libraries in Europe
The European national libraries are, (formerly GABRIEL ) to reach up to the Kosovo and Belarus, on the common web portal The European Library. These are:
Wales: National Library of Wales
National libraries outside Europe (selection)
- Azerbaijan: National Library of Azerbaijan
- Australia: National Library of Australia, Canberra
- China: National Library of China, Beijing
- Iran: Iranian National Library, Tehran
- Iraq National Library and archive of Iraq, Baghdad
- Israel: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
- Japan: National Parliamentary Library, Tokyo and Kyoto
- Canada: Library and Archives Canada; Bibliothèque nationale du Québec
- New Zealand: National Library of New Zealand, Wellington
- USA: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.