The largest publicly available comic book collection in the U.S. is at the Library of Congress.
Source: Original photo by Erik Mclean/ Unsplash
Next Fact

The largest publicly available comic book collection in the U.S. is at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has one of the largest collections of books in human history — and that includes comic books. With more than 12,000 titles stretching across 140,000 issues in its collection, the library holds the largest public collection of comic books in the United States. There’s a little bit of everything — Golden Age superheroes like Superman and Captain America, translated reissues of Japanese manga, foreign translations of American comics, underground comics from the ’70s and ’80s, bande dessinées (French comics) from the ’60s, and much more. The library also has many older comics available on microfiche, including the always-elusive Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman), and it regularly adds comics electronically as they become available. 

The Library of Alexandria is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
The Egyptian city of Alexandria does make the list, but it’s their famous lighthouse that nabs the accolade — not the library. Both were built around 280 BCE. The lighthouse was a ruin by the 14th century, but its remains were rediscovered in the 20th century.

Of course, this isn’t a collection you can simply peruse at your leisure. Due to the fragility of the comics (the oldest issue is nearly 90 years old, after all), these specimens are only available to “researchers under special conditions” — but that includes people such as scriptwriters, pop culture historians, avid collectors, and graphic artists. The Library of Congress has also put on several public comic-centric exhibitions to showcase some of the most intriguing artifacts in its collection.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Approximate number of items the Library of Congress adds to its collection every day
10,000
Purchase price of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which formed the foundation of the library in 1815
$23,950
Year the library’s oldest comic, “Popular Comics,” was published
1936
Price “Amazing Fantasy #15,” the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold at auction in 2021
$3.6 million
The first comic book is often said to be 1897’s “_______.”
The first comic book is often said to be 1897’s “The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats.”
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Think Twice
The Library of Congress used to have a book-delivering conveyor belt.

In 1897, the Library of Congress moved out of the Capitol building and into new digs across the street. Congressmen grumbled at having to cross the street to get books, so the Army Corps of Engineers created a tunnel between the two buildings, and Boston’s Miles Pneumatic Tube Company designed a “book conveying apparatus.” Requests for books came to the library via pneumatic tube, after which the requested edition was whisked away in a tray that rode the rails at a speed of about 10 feet per second. Once at the Capitol, the book would travel up three stories until it arrived near the House floor. The whole trip took about a quarter-mile, and lasted only five minutes. The library built updated conveying systems in the following years to connect annex buildings constructed in 1939 and 1980, but the original tunnel conveyor system was dismantled in the 2000s to make way for a subterranean visitor center, and the other belts have since been abandoned due to high repair costs. Today, though most senators and representatives just use the internet to get the books they need, a Library of Congress staffer can still sometimes be seen hand-delivering books to the Capitol. 

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