National libraries are established by governments for three purposes. The first role of a national library is to house the collection of the most important works in that country. There is some debate as to whether or not the Library of Congress is the national library of the United States. Some sites contend that in the U.S., there is no national library, although the Library of Congress is similar in many ways to other national libraries. However, other sites refer to the Library of Congress as the National Library or America’s Library. It seems that if the Library of Congress is, in fact, not the national library of the United States, it is only because it has not specifically been designated as such.
Three main types of National Libraries in the United States
Library of Congress
National Agricultural Library
National Library of Medicine
National bibliographic control is the second purpose of a national library. Some libraries do this through mandatory or legal deposit laws, in which publishers are legally required to submit copies of copyrightable materials to the national library, sometimes even if they do not intend to publish the work.
A third function is to have international bibliographic control. This facilitates the location and acquisition of information by foreign users. Having similar cataloging systems in place is critical to fulfilling this function for the national library.
A complete list of national libraries in the world may be found at:
Do you think there is a National Library of the United States? Give your reasoning.