RORY: The biggest library I’ve ever seen.
LORELAI: Uh oh. Brace yourself.
LORELAI: This is just one of the libraries.
RORY: One of the libraries?
LORELAI: This building is one component of a thirteen million volume collection housed in more than ninety different libraries. It’s the oldest library in the United States and the largest academic library in the world. Breathe, breathe.
Rory and Lorelai are talking about the Widener Library, full name The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. Housing 3.5 million volumes, it is the centrepiece of the Harvard College Libraries in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and of the entire Harvard Library system. It honours 1907 Harvard graduate and book collector Harry Widener, who was drowned during the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.
As Lorelai says, the Harvard Library system is the oldest library in the US, having grown from a bequest of 400 books by John Harvard in 1638. It is not only the largest university library in the world, but the largest private library.