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The best libraries in the world

Best Libraries From Around The World - The Admont

18 Libraries Every Book Lover Should Visit In Their Lifetime

Asta Thrastardottir

Jan. 1, 2015, If you love books, libraries are some of the most spectacular buildings in the world.

To celebrate these monumentally important buildings, we’ve complied a list of the most magnificent libraries on the planet.

From a library hidden in the forests of Beijing to one in Egypt that was designed like a sundial, these are the libraries that all book lovers should visit in their lifetime.

1. The Admont Library in Admont, Austria

Located in the foothills of the Alps, this beautiful library is the second largest monastery library in the world. The library hall was designed in the late Baroque style by the architect Joseph Hueber in 1776 with a nearly 230-foot-long hall that contains 200,000 volumes.

The ceilings were painted by Bartolomeo Altomonte and show the stages of human knowledge, up to the high point of Divine Revelation.

Best Libraries From Around The World - The Admont Getty Images/Imagno

2. George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

The Peabody Library was funded by the the philanthropist George Peabody. Peabody built the library as a gift to the citizens of Baltimore for their kindness and hospitality.

Designed by 19th-century architect Edmund Lind, Peabody is known for its interior that has a soaring atrium. The five stories of cast-iron balconies are filled to the brim with books, and the skylight roof showers the library in natural light.

Libraries From Around The World - PeabodyFlickr/Matthew Petroff

3. The Royal Library Of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark

Completed in 1999, the ‘Black Diamond’ was built as an extension to the national library of Denmark. The neo-modern library gets its name from its polished black granite and irregular angles.

The library’s harsh exterior is interrupted by an atrium made from only glass. This glass atrium makes the interior of the building an incredible space that is full of light and views of the water, which makes for a really gorgeous reading environment.

Best Libraries From Around The World - The Royal Library of Copenhagen Flickr/Simon Lam

4. Musashino Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto designed the library to be the simplest library in the world, made from only bookcases and a glass exterior. The 20-foot high walls are made from bookshelves, and are only interrupted by bridge-like reading areas.

Fujimoto tells arcspace that the only things you need to make a library are “books, shelves, light, and beautiful places.”

Libraries From Around The World - Musashino libraryFlickr/yoxito

5. Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Boston Public Library contains roughly 23 million items, making it the second-largest public library in the US. The library is known for its incredible courtyard, Italian-inspired architecture, entrance atrium, and its quintessential library reading room: Bates Hall.

The Bates Hall of the library is named after Joshua Bates, the library’s first benefactor. In 1852, Bates agree to donate a large sum to the building of the library with a few conditions: that the building would be an ornament to the city and that it be perfectly free for everyone.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Boston Public LibraryFlickr/Xynn Tii

6. Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany

This cube-shaped, nine-story library takes its design from the Pantheon of ancient Rome, according to Designboom.

The aim of the library was to create a continuum inside of the room, so the entire room is painted in uniform pure-white. The only color in the building comes from the books themselves.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Stuttgart City LibraryFlickr/jwltr freiburg

7. José Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, Mexico

Designed by architect Alberto Kalach, the library is a concrete and glass structure. The bookshelves look as if they are hovering in midair, and a giant whale skeleton hangs in the center of the library.

The library is named after José Vasconcelos, who was a philosopher and politician. Vasconcelos was an important cultural figure in Mexico and an active promoter of reading.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Vasconcelos LibraryFickr/LWYang

8. Liyuan Library in Beijing, China

Located in a small village outside of Beijing, the single-story library blends into its forest surroundings. The library is made from timber beams and its exterior is covered in sticks, according to dezeen. The light of the library comes from the cracks in the twig frame.

The building may be covered in firewood but it has a very advanced integrated cooling system that draws in cold air from the lake it sits on. The library is also completely eco-friendly and made from all recyclable material.

Plus, it looks like an incredibly cozy place to sit and read a book.

Liyuan LibraryFlickr/Forgemind ArchiMedia

9. Vennesla Library and Cultural Center in Vennesla, Norway

This library in Norway is made of a series of arcs, or “ribs,” that support the roof. The concept of the building comes from the ribs of a whale skeleton.

”In this project, we developed a rib concept to create usable hybrid structures that combine a timber construction with all technical devices and the interior,” architects Helen & Hard told ArchDaily.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Vennesla Library Getty Images/View Pictures

10. Beinecke Rare Book Library in New Haven, Connecticut, USA

The Beineck Rare Book & Manuscript Library is the literary archive of the Yale University Library, and is the largest building in the world devoted to the preservation of rare books and documents. The entire library is shaped around the massive display in the center.

The library’s building is iconic because of its incredible Vermont marble, granite, bronze, and glass ‘windows’ that were designed to filter in enough light so that rare materials can be displayed without damage, according to ArchDaily. From the outside, the building looks as if it is completely solid.

The Beineck’s vast collection includes a Gutenberg Bible.

Libraries From Around The World - Beinecke Rare Book Flickr/Lauren Manning

11. Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Egypt

The original library of Alexandria was established in the third century B.C., and was one of largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. When it was destroyed in the third century A.D., there were countless scrolls and books that were lost.

The new library of Alexandria was built in 2002 to pay homage to the openness of the original library. Built by Snøhetta architects, the building is designed like a sundial and tilts towards the Mediterranean Sea.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Alexandrina Library Flickr/bliink

12. Central Library in Seattle, Washington, USA

First opened in 2004, the 11-story glass and steel building in downtown Seattle was designed to be a reinvention of the traditional library. The contemporary building is not only a space dedicated to books, but is also an access point for all forms of media.

Designed by Rem Koolhass, the building combines “futuristic lines with the functionality of a library.” The interior of the building is notable for its large public spaces and natural light.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Central LibraryFlickr/_bclay

13. Trinity College Dublin Library in Dublin, Ireland

Famed for its ‘Long Room,’ the library of Trinity College library is home to the largest collection of books in Ireland.

The over 200-foot-long main room is covered in marble and dark wood pilasters. When it was first completed, the ‘Long Room’ had a flat ceiling, but the roof was raised to accommodate more books.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Trinity LibraryFlickr/nymo59

14. Sir Duncan Rice Library in Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The Sir Duncan Rice Library is the new library of the University of Aberdeen. The library incorporates 21st-century design, and has a huge spiraling atrium in its center.

The library gained a lot of attention for the range of sustainable features that were included in its design. The spiraling atrium lights up all eight floors — the building also has photovoltaic cells on its roof to convert the energy of light directly into electricity.

Libraries From Around The World - Sir Duncan Rice Library Flickr/kaysgeog

15. Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris, France

The Sainte-Geneviève library is the main research and reference library for the students of the University of Paris.

Constructed in the mid-19th century by the famed architect Henri Labrouste, the library is well-known for its cast iron column reading room. The MoMA even described the library as a “temple of knowledge and a space for contemplation.”

Sainte Genevieve LibraryWikipedia

16. New York Public Library in New York, New York, USA

The New York Public Library has nearly 53 million items, and is the third largest library in the world. The incredible Beaux-Arts landmark was one of the largest marble structures in the US when it was built.

The Rose Main Reading Room of the library stretches nearly two city blocks. The reading room measures 297 feet long by 87 feet wide, and has 42 long oak tables for visitors to sit in.

Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - New York Public LIbraryFlickr/Alex Proimos

17. Kanazawa Umimirai Library in Kanazawa City, Japan

This three-story library in Japan is designed like a “cake box,” with large white hole-punched windows that light up the space. The library is meant to be a tranquil room, and the “punching walls” are meant to make it look like a forest of books.

«This environment would allow users to experience the joy of reading while surrounded by a treasure trove of books with a overwhelming physical presence, something that the convenience of electronic and digital books cannot offer,» the architects told ArchDaily.

Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - Kanazawa LibraryFlickr/Forgemind ArchiMedia

18. Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Built in the 19th century, this gorgeous rooms is home to over 350,000 works — and the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal.

The library is known for its Neo-Manueline design, which “evokes the Gothic-Renaissance style that flourished during the time of the Portuguese Discoveries,” according to My Modern Met.

The room is completely covered in books, many of them rare works dating back to the 16th century. It’s the perfect destination for anyone who loves to be surrounded by beautiful books.

 Most Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - Royal Portuguese Reading RoomFlickr/Mathieu Bertrand Struck

SEE ALSO: 30 Books That Changed The Course Of History

http://www.businessinsider.com/18-of-the-worlds-greatest-libraries-2014-12

 

 

62 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

 

Jill Harness

 

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For the last couple years, Jill Harness has been rounding up the world’s most beautiful libraries by continent. Here they are all in one place, in no particular order.

1. Trinity College Library, Ireland

Image courtesy of Irish Welcome Tours’ Flickr stream.

Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, with two story dark wooden arches, this is also the largest library in all of Ireland. It serves as the country’s copyright library, where a copy of all new books and periodicals must be sent when they apply for copyright protection. The library is also home to the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800.

2. Bristol Central Library, England

Image courtesy of Steve Cadman’s Flickr stream.

This library, completed in 1906, is fascinating for its unique combination of architectural styles. The front exterior was designed in Tudor Revival and Modern Movement styles in order to allow it to harmonize with the next-door Abbey Gatehouse. It was built on a slope, and the front of the building is only three stories tall, but thanks to the two basement levels built into the hill, the back of the building has five stories. Inside, the design is mostly Classical, featuring ample arches, marble flooring and a stunning turquoise glass mosaic at the entrance hall.

3. Codrington Library, England

Images courtesy of Miguel Bernas’ and Beth Hoffman’s Flickr streams.

The Codrington Library of Oxford University was completed in 1751 and has been used by scholars ever since. In the late 1990s, the building underwent a massive renovation in order to provide better protection for the books and to make the library more user friendly with better wiring and some new electronic work stations.

4. Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Zubro.

The National Library of France has expanded greatly since new buildings were added to house the collection in 1988. Even so, the old buildings on the Rue de Richelieu are still in use, and are utterly gorgeous as well. These buildings were completed in 1868, and by 1896 the library was the largest book repository in the world, although that record has since been taken from it.

5. The Library of El Escorial, Spain

Image courtesy of Jose Maria Cuellar’s Flickr stream.

This library is located in the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the historical residence of the king of Spain. Phillip II was responsible for adding the library and most of the books originally held within. The vaulted ceilings were painted with gorgeous frescoes, each representing one of the seven liberal arts: rhetoric, dialectic, music, grammar, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. These days, the library is a World Heritage Site, and it holds more than 40,000 volumes.

6. Biblioteca Geral, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Images courtesy of Taco Ekkel’s and Mick L’s Flickr streams.

The General Library of the University of Coimbra consists of two buildings: the New Building built in 1962, and the Joanina Library built in 1725. The Joanina Library is adorned with Baroque décor and houses the library’s volumes that date from before 1800.

7. Handelingenkamer, Netherlands

Image courtesy of Jackie Kever’s Flickr stream.

The library of the Dutch Parliament contains every record of parliamentary hearings and discussions. Because it was built before electric lighting made the storage of books a lot safer, the building was constructed with a massive leaded glass dome in the ceiling to allow in light and minimize the need for candles and gas lamps inside the library.

8. Delft University of Technology Library, Netherlands

Images courtesy of Robert Lochner’s and Thomas Guignard’s Flickr streams.

While modern architecture can often be fascinating, it rarely stands up to more classical designs in terms of beauty. The Delft University of Technology library is a rare exception. With a massive skylight in the ceiling that becomes a steel cone after escaping the confines of the library, and an eco-friendly grass-covered roof, the library is both stunning and totally modern.

9. Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Stibiwiki.

This lovely library is not only the oldest in Switzerland, but one of the oldest and most important monastery libraries in the world, holding over 160,000 volumes many of which date back as far as the 8th century. The Rococo-styled library is often considered one of the most perfect libraries in the world and has earned the Abbey recognition as a World Heritage Site.

10. Admont Abbey Library, Austria

Built in 1776, the Admont Abbey Library is the largest monastery library in the world. The ceiling is adorned with frescoes depicting the stages of human knowledge up until the Divine Revelation. The entire design reflects the ideals and values of the Enlightenment.

11. Melk Monastery Library, Austria

The Baroque-styled abbey and the library within were completed in 1736 based on designs by Jakob Prandtauer. The library includes a world-famous collection of musical manuscripts and features stunning frescoes by artist Paul Troger.

12. Austrian National Library, Austria

Images courtesy of Craig Elliot’s and Jessica Curtin’s Flickr streams.

Austria’s largest library is located in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna and houses over 7.4 million items in its collections. The library was completed in 1723 and features sculptures by Lorenzo Mattielli and Peter Strudel and frescoes by Daniel Gran.

13. Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany

Image courtesy of volzotan’s Flickr stream.

This library, completed in 1744, was modeled in the Baroque style after the Austrian National Library, but it is by no means just a cheap imitation of the original, and it certainly stands on its own. Just outside the library there is an inscription reading “In quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae,” which translates to “In which are stored all treasures of knowledge and science.”

14. Strahov Monastery Library, Czech Republic

Image courtesy of Claudia Dias’ Flickr stream.

This impressive library collection contains over 200,000 volumes, including just about every important title printed in central Europe by the end of the 18th century. And as if the gorgeous décor and impressive book collection weren’t impressive enough on their own, the library also has a favorite feature of many geeks –- two secret passageways hidden by bookshelves and opened with fake books.

15. Clementinum National Library, Czech Republic

Image courtesy of Bruno Delzant’s Flickr stream.

The series of buildings that make up this National Library owe their inception to an 11th century chapel dedicated to Saint Clement (hence the name). The National Library itself was founded in 1781, constructed in a Baroque style, and has served as a copyright library since 1782. The collection now includes historical examples of Czech literature, special materials relating to Tycho Brahe, and a unique collection of Mozart’s personal effects.

16. The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Brazil

Images courtesy of Luciano Joaquim’s and Sebastian R.’s Flickr streams.

The Real Gabinete Português de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro holds more Portuguese works than anywhere else outside of Portugal, including a number of rare titles. Completed in 1887, the building’s design is based on the Gothic-renaissance style that was popular at the time of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. Inside the library are both a stunning chandelier and a gorgeous iron skylight that was the first of its kind in the country.

17. The National Library of Brazil

Image courtesy of Patricia Valeria’s and Yuken Chen’s Flickr streams.

Another amazing library of Rio, the National Library of Brazil was constructed back in 1810 and has since become the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest in the world. As a copyright library, publishers have been required to send over one copy of every title they’ve published since 1907, pushing the library’s collection to over 9 million items, including a number of rare books and an extensive collection of over 21,500 photos all dating from before 1890.

18. The National Library of Chile

Image courtesy of Ejercito de Chile’s Flickr stream.

Featuring a similar style to the National Library of Brazil, this beautiful building was designed in 1913 and completed in 1925 with a neoclassical design meant to commemorate the country’s centenary anniversary. Aside from housing the National Library, the building serves as headquarters to the country’s National Archives.

19. The Library of the San Francisco Monastery, Peru

Images courtesy of Sierra Michels Slettvet’s and dgphilli’s Flickr streams.

The library in Lima’s San Francisco Monastery is one of the oldest and most beautiful on the continent. The stunning convent was completed in 1672, with renovations and improvements continuing up until 1729. The 25,000 volumes contained therein are extremely rare, chronicling a massive variety of knowledge dating from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries.

20. Home of Peruvian Literature, Peru

Image courtesy of Chimi Fotos’ Flickr stream.

If you think the architecture of this building looks familiar, that’s because it was a commonly used design for train stations around the early 1900s. As for why this library looks like a train station, well, that’s simple—it used to be one. In fact, it wasn’t converted into a library until 2009. In an effort to get more of the country’s citizens to read and to support the country’s artists and writers, the library features over 20,000 works, mostly written by or about native Peruvians.

21. Public Library of Lima, Peru

Image courtesy of The Librarian is In.

The previous home to the National Library of Peru, the Public Library of Lima was completed in the 1940s with a small addition completed in 1974. It’s been declared a historical monument by the country’s National Institute of Culture. The main gallery features marble floors and stairs, sculptures of the library’s founders, and gorgeous high ceilings.

22. National Library, Costa Rica

Images courtesy of The National Library System of Costa Rica and Alex Watkins’ Flickr stream.

With a massive upside-down arch above a glass window and concrete levels sandwiching a fragile-looking glass central story, the National Library of Costa Rica is quite striking. It still appears modern despite being over 40 years old. Unfortunately, the location has been subject to a number of earthquakes, leading to a number of closures over the years.

23. Virgilio Barco Library, Colombia

Images courtesy of elroquero’s and Colombia Travel’s Flickr streams.

If you are a fan of modern architectural design, then you’ll really love what Colombia has created in the last decade or so. Famed architect Rogelio Salmona designed this library, completed in 2001. Featuring red brick walls, blue water pools and green lawns, this creative design looks like a maze of colors housing a labyrinth of books inside.

24. Spanish Park Library, Colombia

Images courtesy of Daniel Echeverri’s and dfinnecy’s Flickr streams.

The Parque Biblioteca España stands out from its native Santo Domingo more than any other library on this list. That’s because the striking modernist design of its three boulder-like structures stands in stark contrast to the simple homes of the neighborhood around them. The architect designed the building, specifically its odd windows, as a way to help the impoverished community imagine bigger and better things, says architect Giancarlo Mazzanti. “We wanted to take people from this poor community into another place and change their reality.”

25. EPM Library, Colombia

Images courtesy of Guia de Viajes Oficial de Medellin’s and Biblioteca EPM’s Flickr streams.

Designed like an upside-down pyramid, the EPM library, completed in 2005, may be a unique architectural feat, but its best-known feature remains the odd forest of white columns located just outside. Even so, the 107,000 square foot interior is quite beautiful, particularly the strikingly angled walls.

26. Villanueva Public Library, Colombia

Images courtesy of Nicolas Cabrera via Dezeen.

Perhaps the most famous of Colombia’s new libraries is the Villanueva Public Library, which was constructed using not only locally sourced materials, but also by the people of the village. Stones were gathered from nearby rivers and sustainable wood from nearby forests, and local people were trained to help construct the building. The design, created by four nearby college students, focuses on natural ventilation and plenty of shade to keep the interior nice and cool. All of these cost-cutting measures went a long way in helping a truly impoverished area secure a much-needed library.

27. Central Library of Vancouver, Canada

Images courtesy of Evan Leeson’s and David J. Laporte’s Flickr stream.

Many modern building designs are based on historical icons, but few of these designs focus on the ruins rather than the original. The Central Library of Vancouver is an exception. Based on the Roman Coliseum, this massive building takes up one full city block and features not only a library with 1.3 million reference materials, but also retail shops, restaurants, a parking structure, office buildings and a rooftop garden.

28. Library of Parliament, Canada

Images courtesy of Wikipedia users Wladyslaw and Alejandro Erickson.

The Library of Parliament was once part of the city’s original Parliamentary headquarters constructed in 1876. The building had been under construction for ten years before it was revealed that the builders didn’t know how to create a domed roof as seen in the plans. To get around this issue, the Tomas Fairbairn Engineering Company of England was commissioned to create a pre-fabricated dome. As a result, the building had the distinction of being the first building in North America to have a wrought iron roof. The unique Gothic building is so iconic that today it is even featured on the Canadian ten-dollar bill.

29. Library of Congress, USA

Images courtesy of NCinDC’s and BamaLawDog’s Flickr streams.

The Library of Congress, a personal favorite, is the largest library in the entire world as ranked by both shelf space and number of books. Among its several buildings, the oldest is the Thomas Jefferson Building, which just might be the most beautiful structure in the library system. Completed in 1897, the library’s neoclassical style features some of the most intricate interiors of any building in the U.S., including murals and sculptures from a variety of classically-trained American artists. Interestingly, the building’s exterior was even more lavish than it is now, as it was originally gilded, but this was criticized as it was believed to draw attention away from the Capitol Building. These days, the roof consists merely of copper that has aged to a sea green shade.

30. Stephen A. Schwarzman Library, USA

Images courtesy of melanzane1013’s Flickr stream and Wikipedia user Diliff.

You might recognize this National Historical Landmark, better known simply as the “New York Public Library,” by the two stone lions guarding the building (known as either Lord Astor and Lady Lenox or Patience and Fortitude). Inside, the wooden shelves, frescoed ceilings and grand chandeliers give the entire building an old-world feel. Completed in 1911, the library featured more than 75 miles of shelves when it was first opened. The collection still managed to grow too large for its home by 1970, so the library was expanded by adding an underground area that extends under nearby Bryant Park.

31. Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library in Vassar College, USA

Images courtesy of mebrett’s Flickr stream and Wikipedia user noteremote.

This massive Gothic structure consists of three wings and a central tower, and now houses around a million books, 7500 periodicals, and a massive microfilm and microfiche collection. While the main tower is quite striking, the most famous part of the library is the enormous stained glass window in the West Wing showing Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman to earn a doctorate in Europe, receiving her degree from the University of Padua.

32. Jay Walker’s Private Library, USA

Images courtesy of Aaron «tango» Tang’s Flickr stream.

Priceline.com founder Jay Walker’s gorgeous wooden library, filled with an array of historical and pop culture artifacts, has been labeled by Wired as «the most amazing library in the world.” As if the gorgeous etched glass, labyrinthine design and multiple stories of book shelves weren’t impressive enough, the collection of rarities stored in the library is completely mesmerizing. Between books bound in rubies, a Sputnik, a chandelier from Die Another Day, and a list of plague mortalities from 1665, visitors to the private library might just have a hard time leaving.

33. Harold Washington Library, USA

Images courtesy of Douglas Kaye and clarkmaxwell’s Flickr stream.

This is one of my favorite modern library designs as it takes new construction techniques and applies them to neoclassical building styles. The result is a vintage look with a modern twist. The red brick base perfectly balances the glass rooftop adorned with seven massive aluminum adornments. Best of all, the designers took their inspiration from other famous Chicago buildings, ensuring the whole structure fits in perfectly with its surroundings.

34. Beinecke Rare Book Library in Yale University, USA

Images courtesy of Henry Trotter and Lauren Manning.

From the outside, this windowless monstrosity really isn’t much to look at, but the interior of this Yale library is quite impressive and undeniably unique with its beautiful marble walls. The library is now the largest building in the world designed exclusively for the protection of rare books and manuscripts. And it has quite the collection to protect, as the building is home to one of 48 known copies of the Gutenberg Bible, ancient papyri, rare maps, medieval manuscripts, early American newspapers and more.

35. José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico

Images courtesy of CliNKer’s and vladimix’s Flickr streams.

Nicknamed the “megalibrary” by the Mexican press, this giant library takes up a whopping 409,000 square feet, making it large enough to dwarf the painted gray whale skeleton displayed inside the main hallway. Outside of the library is an impressive botanical garden that protects the building from the loud city streets, providing a moat for this castle of knowledge. Inside, over 500,000 books are displayed on glass shelves hanging from the five stories of the building. The end result is as striking as it is stunning.

36. Palafoxiana Library, Mexico

Images courtesy of Carlos Enrique Lopez C’s and David Cabrera’s Flickr streams.

Established in 1646, this Puebla library was the first public library in Mexico; some even argue that it was the first library in the Americas. It is now listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register and its 41,000 books and manuscripts include an array of rare and antique titles.

37. The Armstrong-Browning Library at Baylor University, USA

Image courtesy of Texas Tongs’ Flickr stream.

Philanthropist Dr. A.J. Armstrong wanted to create the “most beautiful building in Texas,” and the end result was this 3-story, Italian Renaissance-styled masterpiece adorned with 62 stained glass windows, massive marble columns and intricate ceiling designs. Armstrong justified the expense by pointing out that the “compelling beauty” of the building might be able to inspire someone enough that «if we by that means give the world another Dante, another Shakespeare, another Browning, we shall count the cost a bargain.»

38. Morgan Library, USA

Image courtesy of Rob Shenk’s Flickr stream.

Constructed in 1906, this amazing New York landmark was originally built as the personal library and museum space for financier Pierpont Morgan’s impressive collection of rare books, manuscripts, drawings, artifacts and prints. After Pierpont’s death, his grandson, J.P. Morgan, Jr., opened the library to the public in 1924.

39. Boston Public Library, USA

Image courtesy of koalie’s Flickr stream.

Talk about old school: The Boston Public library, established in 1848, was the first municipal library in all of the U.S. Its first location was a small Massachusetts schoolhouse, but it had to expand almost immediately. In 1895, the current building, called a “palace for the people” by architect Charles Follen McKim, was completed in Copley Square. In 1972, the building was expanded, and it now contains over 8.9 million books, a number of rare manuscripts, maps, musical scores, and prints. It even has first edition folios from Shakespeare and original music scores by Mozart.

40. Braddock Carnegie Library, USA

Image courtesy of macwagen’s Flickr stream.

The first Carnegie library in the U.S., this library was designed in an eclectic medieval style by William Halsey Wood and opened in Pennsylvania in 1889. Only 5 years later, it received a Romanesque-styled addition, doubling the size of the building. At the time, it featured a variety of entertainment options, including billiards tables on the first floor, a music hall, a gymnasium, and a swimming pool. Additionally, it held a bathhouse in the basement so mill workers could take a shower before accessing the facilities. These days, the bathhouse is a pottery studio, but the tiled floors and walls remain.

41. Indianapolis Public Library, USA

Image courtesy of sergemelki’s Flickr stream.

This Indiana library manages to balance old and new influences in a refreshingly unique manner. The original building, completed in 1917, is located in the front of the complex, while a massive, modernized addition from 2007 sits in the background. The first building was designed in the Greek Doric style and is often called one of the most outstanding architectural libraries in the U.S. The addition is just about as modern as can be, with glass and wood paneling throughout the building, and the 6-story, 293,000 square foot tower provides even more space for books and reading rooms.

42. Los Angeles Central Library, USA

Image courtesy of hollywoodsmile78’s Flickr stream.

Like the Indianapolis Public Library, the Central Library of Los Angeles features a striking balance between old and new architecture. The original library building was completed in 1926 and featured influences from ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture, including pyramids and mosaics. A 1993 renovation added a new wing with Modernist and Beaux-Arts influences, including an eight story atrium and more storage space for the museum’s ever-growing collection. These days, the library is the third largest public library in the U.S. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

43. Hearst Castle Gothic Study, USA

Image courtesy of Stuck in Customs’ Flickr stream.

Hearst Castle is one of the most famous buildings in California, but most tour groups miss the opportunity to explore the second story of the building, which includes a massive guest library and a cozier gothic library and study. This room also played a vital role in Hearst’s life, as the mogul preferred to use this room as his executive board room, doing business here whenever possible, .

44. Skywalker Ranch Library, USA

Image courtesy of Michael Heilemann’s Flickr stream.

If you ever happen to get access to California’s Skywalker Ranch, make sure you get a chance to look at the library, which is crowned with a 40-foot stained glass dome that allows employees and guests of Lucas Studios to enjoy their reading in natural light.

45. Suzzallo Library of the University of Washington, USA

Image courtesy of Curtis Cronn’s Flickr stream.

This Collegiate Gothic building was completed in 1923 and among its many impressive details are 18 terra-cotta figures set atop the buttresses featuring academic heroes such as Louis Pasteur, Dante, Shakespeare, Plato, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Gutenberg, Beethoven, Darwin, and more. Inside, a series of shields depict the coats of arms from many top universities around the world, including Yale, Oxford, Stanford and Uppsala. While the library is home to many rare volumes, the most famous item in its collection is one of the world’s largest, a photo book of Bhutan by Michael Hawley. Library staff turn the pages about once a month so interested viewers can slowly enjoy the entire work from front to back—assuming they visit regularly.

46. Fisher Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania, USA

Image courtesy of jeffhartge’s Flickr stream.

In 1888, most architects were focused on Romanesque styles built with marble and granite. But this library’s architect, Frank Furness, wanted the building to reflect the architectural style of Philadelphia’s many red brick factories. Throughout the following years it received a number of additions and alterations and finally, in 1962, most of the school’s collection was moved to a new location and the former main building became the home to the fine arts library.

47. David Sassoon Library, India

Images courtesy of Flickr users bookchen and Carol Mitchell.

Completed in 1870, the David Sassoon Library is one of only 145 monuments protected by India’s government, and the oldest library in Mumbai. One of its most famous features is the beautiful garden in the back—a rare sight in the commercial area in which it is located.The library and reading room were originally intended to be an entire institute dedicated to mechanics, science and technology, but funding ran short. The Sassoon Mechanic’s Institute was renamed the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room after its primary donor.

48. Raza Library, India

The Raza Library in Rampur was completed in 1904, and was once part of a palace. While many of the royal family’s other properties have been left to crumble, the library is still protected by the Indian government—another one of the country’s few protected monuments. The royal family started gathering works for the library way back in 1774. Included in their collection are 17,000 rare manuscripts, 205 hand-written palm leaves and 5000 miniature paintings.

49. The National Library of China

Image courtesy of  Flickr user Dennis Deng

If you’re looking for info on China’s ancient history, the National Library of China’s old buildings might be a good place to start. They serve as the home to a vast array of historical and ancient books and manuscripts—even inscribed tortoise shells. And though the buildings themselves are designed in a traditional Chinese style, they were only completed in 1987.

50. The Tianyi Pavilion Library, China

Images courtesy of What’s On Ningbo.

If you’re looking for real traditional Chinese architecture, you’ll need to leave Beijing and head over to Ningbo City—home to the oldest private library in Asia. Built in 1560 by a retired imperial minister, Tianyi Pavilion Library is the third oldest private library in the world. As you might expect, the collection is rather impressive: 300,000 ancient books, including a number of woodcut and handwritten titles.

51. National Library of Bhutan

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Christopher J. Flynn.

Completed in 1984, the National Library of Bhutan is also technically a Buddhist temple, and the structure is intended to integrate the three aspects of Buddha and his teachings: the physical represented by statues and paintings, the speech represented by books and printing blocks, and the heart represented by the eight small bowls found on the shrine on the first floor. The library is home to about 6100 Tibetan and Bhutanese books, manuscripts and xylographs, and about 9000 printing boards and wood printing blocks. While the collection isn’t massive, it is one of the largest collections of Buddhist literature in the world.

52. Grand People’s Study House, North Korea

Images courtesy of Flickr users John Pavelka and gadgetdan.

The Study House was completed 1982 in honor of Kim Il-Sung’s 70th birthday and features an amazing 600 rooms with capacity for 30 million books. Of course, being housed in North Korea, foreign publications are only available with special permission, so it will probably be a while before all the shelves are full.

53. Nakanoshima Library, Japan

Image courtesy Flickr users hetgallery of and muzina_shanghai.

This Neo-Baroque design might not be something you’d immediately associate with Japan, but the 1904 Nakanoshima Library actually fits in quite well in Osaka, as the area has quite a few other stone-walled buildings with similar architecture. This building, complete with a copper roof dome (not visible in the exterior image above), is certainly one of the most stunning.

54. Beitou Library, Taiwan

Images courtesy of Flickr user JAQ’s PhotoStorage.

While this attractive building might not be the most beautiful one on this list, it is undeniably the most eco-friendly and the most modern. The slanted roof collects moisture from humidity and rain, and then recycles it for the restrooms and gardens. The Beitou Library has also been fitted with solar panels and deep-set and latticed windows to reduce energy use.

55. Victorian State Library, Australia

Images courtesy of Wikipedia users Bjenks and Diliff

This library was first opened in 1856 with a collection of 3,800 books, and the famous domed reading room was opened in 1913. While the dome’s skylights were covered with copper sheets in 1959 due to water leakage, they have since been renovated, allowing beautiful natural light to once again fill the reading room. This library is not only massive – containing over 2 million books – it also has some fantastic rarities, including the diaries of the city’s founders, folios of Captain James Cook, and the armor of famed outlaw Ned Kelly.

56. The State Library of New South Wales, Australia

Image courtesy of Flickr user Christopher Chan

The oldest library in all of Australia, the State Library started as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826, and the current building was built in 1845. The most famous, and most stunning, part of the library is the Mitchell Wing, which was completed in 1910. The wing was named for David Scott Mitchell who had a fantastic collection of older books, including original journals of James Cook. The library now houses over 5 million items, including 2 million books and 1.1 million photographs.

57. The State Library of South Australia

Images courtesy of Flickr users OZinOH and gracias!

The State Library of South Australia is not as large as some of the other Australian State libraries, but it does have the distinction of having the largest collection dating from pre-European times in its South Australiana collection. This collection is mostly contained within the Mortlock Wing, the oldest and most gorgeous part of the library. Opened in 1884, the building originally held 23,000 books and employed three librarians. Since then, the collection has expanded so much that two massive buildings had to be added to the library, although the Mortlock Wing remains the most visually impressive.

58. Victorian Parliamentary Library, Australia

Images courtesy of Flickr user Sally Cummings

The Parliament House was built in stages, starting in 1855, and the library was one of the first things completed after the Legislative Assembly and Council. While construction continued all the way through 1929, the building’s Roman Revival design is fluent and smooth, so the whole thing seems like one single entity rather than a series of extra wings tagged on throughout the years

59. Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide, Australia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia user pdfpdf

In 1927, the last heir to a prominent philanthropic Australian family offered £20,000 to the University of Adelaide for a new library, on the condition that it be named after his father, Robert Barr Smith. The red brick library was completed in 1932, complete with two friezes commemorating the donations of the Barr Smiths. Since the collection expanded quite quickly, addition after addition had to be added. These days, the library holds over two million volumes and now spans over almost 21,000 square meters.

60. University of Otago Central Library, New Zealand

Image courtesy of Flickr user petahopkins

There are ten different libraries at the University of Otago, and when it comes to looks and impressive collections, the Central Library stands above the rest, with its gorgeous, modern architecture that lets in ample natural light and its Special Collection containing over 9000 books printed before 1801. The library offers over 2000 study spaces for students and over 500,000 books, periodicals and microfilms.

61. The George Forbes Memorial Library at Lincoln University, New Zealand

Lincoln University isn’t huge, nor is the George Forbes Memorial Library located at the heart of campus inside Ivey Hall, but what they lack in size they make up for in beauty. Ivey Hall was opened in 1880, and while the library was originally opened in the George Forbes Memorial Building in 1960, it was moved into Ivey Hall in 1988 after the building underwent a major refurbishment.

62. Tuggeranong Library, Australia

Image courtesy of Flickr user longreach

Lake Tuggeranong is a man-made body of water created by a dam in 1987. As a result, the suburban town built around the lake is equally new, but with the lovely scenery, it’s no wonder that the local architecture is a step above typical suburban towns. The Tuggeranong Town Center Library is no exception and is, in fact, one of the most picturesque buildings in town – particularly when viewed from the water where you can see its reflection. While it might not be particularly old or have an impressive collection of rare books, with a view like this, it certainly deserves its place on this list.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of course, with all the thousands of libraries in the world, this list of beautiful libraries still leaves out plenty of gorgeous architectural marvels. If you feel your favorite library was left out, feel free to tell everyone about it in the comments.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51788/62-worlds-most-beautiful-libraries

50 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

 

By BVS Staff

most-beautiful-libraries

Libraries are some of the most complete and incredible tributes to human knowledge imaginable, and with their range of resources, they’re invaluable when it comes to studying. However, reading up on a topic of choice needn’t be done in a bland and boring building, as the following institutions demonstrate. And while it’s the books and facilities that make a library, being in lovely surroundings may provide inspiration and help you to work that little bit harder. Whether they feature sleek, eye-catching architecture or extravagant interiors, the 50 libraries on this list are the most beautiful in the world.

50. Macquarie University Library – Sydney, Australia

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The library at Macquarie University in Northern Sydney, Australia has pioneering technology to match its cutting-edge design. It is home to the first Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) in any college in the country; this uses robot cranes to pick up books and convey them to the front desk. For the building’s eye-catching look, architecture firm Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, which has offices in Australia and England, took its cues from the surrounding landscape – in particular a eucalyptus forest that graces the campus. Flora also makes an appearance on the green roof, which incorporates planted areas and grass; meanwhile, wells are used to flood the bottom floors with daylight. The stunning building – which was constructed using recycled materials – opened its doors in 2011 and contains more than 1.8 million electronic and print items.

49. National Library of Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Approximately nine million items are contained in the National Library of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Ranking seventh in size amongst all other libraries around the world, it features a 19th-century collection of tens of thousands of photographs that, due to their significance, are on the register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The fantastically ornate building has its origins in an earthquake that took place in Lisbon in 1755, which led to a lot of the collections contained within the Portuguese city’s Royal Library being transported all the way to Brazil. The South American facility was founded in 1810, but its current incarnation – which showcases elements of the neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles – was inaugurated exactly a century later.

48. UNAM Central Library – Mexico City, Mexico

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The splendid Central Library is arguably the jewel in the crown of the Ciudad Universitaria campus at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Completed in 1952, the building – designed by Gustavo Saavedra and Juan Martínez de Velasco – holds approximately 400,000 books. However, it is perhaps best known for its exterior murals, which were crafted by Mexican architect and painter Juan O’Gorman and cover the ten-story building in a mosaic that recounts the history of the country. Perhaps surprisingly, none of the murals are painted; O’Gorman journeyed through Mexico to find the brightly colored stones of which they’re made.

47. Old Library, Trinity College Library Dublin – Dublin, Ireland

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A place that holds the Book of Kells – the splendidly embellished Gospel volume that dates back to the early 9th century – is special just for that fact, but the Old Library at Trinity College Library Dublin would be a wonder regardless. Its Long Room contains 200,000 of the most aged books in the library’s collection. Originally completed around 1733 by Irish architect and engineer Thomas Burgh, the 213-foot-long chamber boasts carved, dark wooden features and a handsome, barrel-like ceiling. The marble busts of writers, philosophers and college backers that line the space are also a major attraction.

46. Peckham Library – London, U.K.

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The London district of Peckham received a colorful new feature in 2000 with the arrival of its public library. The now-separated Anglo-German architectural practice Alsop and Störmer rose to the challenge of the structure’s brief, which called for “a thoroughly modern building that is ahead of its time” and which would give the area a “psychological boost.” The library has proven popular with Peckham residents, but its striking mix of primary-hued glass, copper, and steel weave apparently appealed to those in the know, too, as it was awarded the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for architectural excellence in the same year it opened, with competition judges stating, “This is a building to make you smile: more architecture should do that.”

45. George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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Even if students at Johns Hopkins University are struggling to cram for their midterms, at least they have a grand, spacious Greek Revival-style library in which to work – and its collection of 300,000 volumes, many from the 19th century, probably helps too. The building – finished in 1878 – was the work of local architect Edmund G. Lind, who created what has been termed a “cathedral of books” for the college. The library’s atrium rises 61 feet into the air, peaking with a latticed skylight at the top, while columns featuring gold scalloping together with tiered, cast-iron balconies add highly attractive decorative embellishments.

44. Library of Birmingham – Birmingham, U.K.

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The new Library of Birmingham is said to be not only Britain’s biggest public library, but also the largest regional facility of its kind in the whole of Europe. Its dazzling silver, glass and gold exterior features interlocking metal rings and was designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo to pay tribute to the English city’s Jewelry Quarter. The postmodern-style replacement for the Birmingham Central Library was opened in 2013 and has a wealth of resources within its walls, including adult and kids’ libraries, music collections, a Shakespeare Memorial Room, and even a health facility. Gardens crown the roof, while the changing seasons bring variations in the shadows and reflections inside.

43. Royal Portuguese Reading Room – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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Studying can be done in considerable style at the Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro. With its gorgeous multicolored skylight and lovely balustrades, the richly decorated Neo-Manueline interior would be a delight to experience even if it didn’t hold the biggest and most valuable collection of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal itself. There are over 350,000 volumes within the library, and included in its collection are rare books from centuries past. The facility was finished in 1887, and one of its focal points is the Altar da Pátria, which is a stunning masterpiece made from marble, ivory and silver commemorating the Portuguese Discoveries that took place during the 1400s and 1500s.

42. Brandenburg University of Technology Library – Cottbus, Germany

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Herzog & de Meuron achieved international recognition with their famed design for the Tate Modern in London, and the Swiss firm excelled again with the conception of the library at Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Germany. Rather fittingly for a building that houses many words, its skin is covered with myriad lettering in various alphabets and languages. Inside, it’s considerably more vibrant, with storage spaces, ceilings and shelves that are almost kaleidoscopic in their hues. The structure, which was completed in 2004, stands at just under 105 feet in height and features seven levels above ground plus two below.

41. Austrian National Library – Vienna, Austria

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The Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria was once the residence of emperors and kings, but today, in addition to being the official home of the country’s president, it plays host to an amazing 7.4 million items in the Austrian National Library. The original royal collection found a permanent abode in the palace when the Court Library was constructed between the years 1723 and 1735, first under the direction of architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and with the building work later overseen by his son Johann Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. One of the Austrian National Library’s most jaw-dropping features is the huge fresco on the ceiling, which was created by painter Daniel Gran. The dome is also decorated with statues by sculptor Paul Strudel that pay tribute to the Habsburg rulers.

40. Vennesla Library and Culture House – Vennesla, Norway

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Situated in the municipality of Vennesla in Norway, the sleek-looking structure pictured above houses not only a public library, but also meeting spaces, administrative areas and a cafeteria. It was conceived by Norwegian firm Helen & Hard, which employed an innovative “rib” configuration in the design of the library itself. Twenty-seven ribs, made from timber and plywood, are incorporated into the facility, with each one featuring built-in shelves and reading nooks. What’s more, the finished article is not just beautiful but eco-conscious, too, with sustainable elements that include vertical sun shading and the admission of plenty of daylight. Finished in 2011, the library was honored the following year with the country’s Statens Byggeskikkpris award for the best national building.

39. Clementinum National Library – Prague, Czech Republic

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The Clementinum has been described as “the Baroque pearl of Prague,” and this is surely due at least in part to the richly adorned interior of its library, with its touches of gold and stunning spiral pillars. The facility, which was built in 1722, now serves as the National Library of the Czech Republic and is graced with a ceiling adornment by Jan Hiebl that celebrates ancient learning and wisdom. Meanwhile, some of the tomes contained within date all the way back to the Jesuit era. The historic complex, which was originally a major Jesuit college, was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme in 2005.

38. University of Aberdeen Library – Aberdeen, U.K.

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The bold, zebra-like stripes that adorn the University of Aberdeen’s library building are the work of international Danish architecture firm schmidt hammer lassen. One of its principals, Morten Schmidt, has poetically said of its unique exterior, “[It] will shimmer during the day and glows softly at night,” and he described it as a “beacon” for the Scottish city. This innovative building won a National Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2013, as well as concurrent recognition from the World Architecture Festival, where it made the shortlist in the Civic and Community division. It became the first major construction to be completed in Aberdeen for 25 years and opened to students and staff in 2011.

37. National Library of France – Paris, France

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The National Library of France has mushroomed in recent years, thanks to an expansion and partial move to newly completed premises in 1996. However, the origins of the institution – which now contains an astonishing 30 million items – date back to the 14th century and the royal library established at the Louvre by King Charles V. The library relocated to its still operating Rue de Richelieu site in 1868, with major design work carried out by French architects Henri Labrouste and, following his death, Jean-Louis Pascal. Here, the circular reading rooms are elegance itself, with the Salle de Travail featuring nine domes sitting on columns said to echo Ottoman architecture. There are more than just books to be found there, too: the chess set of the 9th-century King Charlemagne is one of the library’s more unique pieces.

36. Kanazawa Umimirai Library – Kanazawa, Japan

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Japanese architecture firm Coelacanth K&H designed a library that is said to bring the outdoors indoors through its open feel and sylvan sensibility. The Kanazawa Umimirai Library building, which was completed in 2011, is enclosed by a white “punching wall.” The wall is replete with 6,000 little holes that let in a soothing light and is also designed to help distribute seismic force in case of earthquakes. Floor heating and cooling has been incorporated for the public’s comfort, while the roof’s openings provide natural aeration to help make it more pleasant in the summertime. The awesome-looking structure was honored with the Chubu Architecture Award in 2012.

35. University of California San Diego Geisel Library – San Diego, California, USA

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The Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego takes its name from the celebrated writer Theodor Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss – and his wife Audrey. The literary pair was honored in this way for contributions to the library and their commitment to bettering literacy. The eight-story, 110-foot structure is an arresting example of the brutalist style and was designed towards the end of the 1960s by notable future-focused American architect William Pereira. Urban legends related to the building abound, one of which states that the library is sinking as a result of its contents, although this has been categorically denied by the facility’s staff.

34. Iowa State Capitol Law Library – Des Moines, Iowa

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Iowa’s State Capitol Law Library at Des Moines is one beautiful building in which we wouldn’t mind getting lost. The splendid space, which was fashioned in the Renaissance style in the 1880s, connects its five levels with elaborately detailed cast-iron spiral stairs and features interiors in chestnut and ash woods. Its marble flooring and walls, chandeliers, periodicals, case book materials and stacks of bookcases – through which one can browse the library’s collection of treatises – collectively create an atmosphere of learned opulence. American architects John C. Cochrane and Alfred H. Piquenard were responsible for its design as well as that of the rest of the State Capitol.

33. Library of Parliament – Ottawa, Canada

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Since 1876, The Parliament of Canada has had a suitably grand building in which to store its resources. The attractive, elaborate Victorian High Gothic structure of Ottawa’s Library of Parliament owes its design to Canadian architects Chilion Jones and Thomas Fuller. Its multicolored appearance – referred to as structural polychromy – is down to a mix of materials, including green and purple bands of slate and red Potsdam sandstone. The three-tiered roof crowned with a cupola adds to the majestic effect; and so too do the stone carvings in friezes and floral motifs on the exterior, as well as the 16 flying buttresses.

32. Los Angeles Public Library – Los Angeles, California

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The interior of the Los Angeles Public Library is truly awe-inspiring, thanks in no small part to Dean Cornwell’s colorful lobby mural, which represents the history of California in four sections and was completed in the early 1930s. The original building, opened in 1926, was designed by distinguished Neo-Gothic architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who chose to imbue the work with ancient Egyptian-influenced elements such as the mosaic pyramid at the top along with Mediterranean Revival-style features. However, a renovation and expansion in the late 1980s and early 1990s also gave it a Modernist/Beaux-Arts look.

31. Vancouver Public Library – Vancouver, Canada

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The seven-story Vancouver Public Library brings a little bit of Rome into the Canadian city, as it bears more than a passing likeness to the famous Colosseum. The structure – completed in 1995 – was built out of precast concrete in a reddish, sandstone-like hue, and the Italian theme continues with its surroundings, which comprise a piazza area around the building. International firm Safdie Architects and local practice DA Architects can take credit for the attention-grabbing design, as well as that of the Federal Office Tower and commercial resources that, along with the Public Library, make up Library Square in Vancouver.

30. Bodleian Library – Oxford, U.K.

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The English city of Oxford isn’t short of attractive buildings, but arguably one of its most appealing is the Radcliffe Camera, which initially played host to the Radcliffe Science Library but would later come to operate as a reading room for the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest of its kind in the whole of Europe. The building is an exceptional piece of 18th-century architecture that was named for its benefactor, medic John Radcliffe, and was opened over 250 years ago in 1749. Influential British architect James Gibbs was responsible for its design, which follows the English Palladian style. The structure itself is the oldest example of a circular library in the country.

29. Abbey Library of Saint Gall – St. Gallen, Switzerland

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Its wide-ranging collection of manuscripts – some of which date back to the 8th century – helps make the facility at the Abbey of Saint Gall in St. Gallen, Switzerland one of the most significant monastic libraries on the planet. Along with the rest of the abbey, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being “a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery.” With its areas of magnificently carved wood, paint and stucco, Austrian architect Peter Thumb’s opulent Rococo hall is said to be Switzerland’s superlative example of Baroque design. All of this makes visiting to peruse any of its 160,000-plus volumes a pleasure.

28. Cerritos Millennium Library – Cerritos, California, USA

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Cerritos’ Millennium Library is pioneering in more than one way. As well as being the USA’s first building to be covered with titanium paneling, it has also been termed the first “Experience Library,” because the facility puts a spotlight on fascinating themed areas, stunning art and interesting architecture. There is a children’s library that incorporates a marine aquarium with coral and sharks, while for the more grown-up scholar, the Old World Reading Room is inspired by 19th-century European design and is outfitted with chandeliers and a fireplace. Californian architects Charles Walton Associates were responsible for the sleek and shining addition to the city, and the building was finished in 2002.

27. Harold Washington Library Center – Chicago, Illinois

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While it may be a bit of an eye-catcher, the giant, ten-story public Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago was sympathetically designed by local architects Hammond, Beeby and Babka – now HBRA Architects – to echo the sensibility of other buildings in the city, like the 19th-century Rookery. The local firm combined Beaux-Arts features such as the building’s granite bottom and attractive red brick, although its decorative elements are more Mannerist in style. The library itself was completed in 1991, but two years later it was given another arresting feature through its Kent Bloomer-designed aluminum acroteria – figures of wise owls and seed pods, the latter a nod to the Midwest’s agricultural tradition.

26. University of Coimbra General Library – Coimbra, Portugal

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Gilded finishes are plentiful in the beautiful, Baroque Joanina Library, which is part of the University of Coimbra General Library in Coimbra, Portugal and was completed in 1728. Its three rooms – which contain 70,000 older volumes stacked over two stories – are divided by elaborate archways, while the hard oak used for the shelving inside should keep it free from insect infestation. Other animal residents seem to be assisting with this potential problem, too: a camp of bats roosting inside the walls emerges at night to gobble up insects that might be prone to gorging on the volumes. And elsewhere, heavy walls and doors made of teak help to keep heat and humidity to a minimum, further preserving the cherished library’s treasures.

25. Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Victorian-era American architect Frank Furness was responsible for the design of the University of Pennsylvania’s stunning Fisher Fine Arts Library, which was completed in 1890 and was built in the Venetian Gothic style. Its smart red brick exterior recalls the look of Philadelphia factories of the period. Meanwhile, a touch of literary flair is added through the Shakespeare inscriptions in the windows, which were selected by Furness’ brother, a distinguished scholar of the Bard’s work. The building has received praise from none other than acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who described it as “the work of an artist.” It is now a National Historic Landmark.

24. Strahov Monastery Library – Prague, Czech Republic

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Anyone who wishes to consult the Bible when in Prague should head to the Strahov Monastery. Its magnificent Theological Hall is home to thousands of editions of the holy book. Moreover, the library hall’s glorious stuccowork makes the space a real head-turner. It was completed in 1679, with the nearby Philosophical Hall – which was constructed to house books from the Louka Convent in South Moravia – joining it around a hundred years later. After communists seized the abbey in 1950, it became the Memorial to National Literature, although the library, along with other parts of the complex, was renewed and restored following the Velvet Revolution.

23. Braunschweig University of Art Library – Braunschweig, Germany

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The stunning, glass-fronted cube that houses the Braunschweig University of Art’s library shows what can be done with a bit of recycling and a lot of ingenuity. Completed in 2002, the structure took materials from the Mexican pavilion at the Expo 2000 World’s Fair, which was staged in the German city of Hanover. The pavilion’s creator, AIA Gold Medal-winning Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, worked in conjunction with the Braunschweig branch of KSP Engel & Zimmermann (now KSP Jürgen Engel) to design the building, which also contains a red cube inside – tilted in relation to the exterior sheath – that accommodates its books.

22. Philological Library, Free University of Berlin – Berlin, Germany

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The Faculty of Philology library at Berlin’s Free University is arguably at its most attractive by night, when interior lighting glows through its transparent partitions to create a checkerboard effect. This four-story structure is the brainchild of world-famous global firm Foster + Partners. The architects’ bulbous, aluminum and glazed-panel creation encourages light-imbued spaces – ideal for study – through the sinuous layout of its floors, which subside or expand in relation to the area above. The distinctive shape of the library, which was completed in 2005, has inspired its nickname: apparently, some call it “the Berlin brain.”

21. Edith Cowan University Library and Resources Building – Joondalup, Australia

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The striking Library and Resources Building at Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University was intended to be a home away from home. Its architects, Perth-based Jones Coulter Young, have explained the premise of the design, saying, “Everyone studies differently, and if the most comfortable way to study is at home with a laptop, a coffee, a friend and a snack, why shouldn’t that be possible here?” To this end, the building – completed in 2006 – contains a coffee shop and what the designers term a “research and learning lounge,” complete with beanbags and ottomans. Elsewhere, the white and yellow louvers of the exterior not only contribute to the library’s unique aesthetic, but also in part act as a sunscreen.

20. Kansas City Central Library – Kansas City, Missouri

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The enormous bookshelf that makes up part of the Kansas City Central Library was the brainchild of architects CDFM2 – now national firm 360 Architecture. The feature acts as a major focal point of the building as well as providing a big clue as to what’s inside. Named the “Community Bookshelf,” it skirts the south side of the library’s parking lot, and its 22 titles – constructed from signboard mylar and standing some 25 feet tall – were suggested by avid local bookworms. Two of its volumes even offer a nod to the area’s history. The Community Bookshelf was completed in 2004, the same year the Central Library found its current home.

19. St. Florian Monastery Library – Sankt Florian, Austria

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Gorgeous aesthetics – including a breathtaking ceiling fresco – and towering stacks of books make entering the main library hall atSt. Florian Monastery in Sankt Florian, Austria a treat for any bibliophile, or indeed anyone who appreciates attractive Baroque architecture. Austrian architects Jakob Prandtauer and Johann Gotthard Hayberger were responsible for the design of the library, which was completed in 1750. A significant portion of its 150,000-volume collection dates back to before the 19th century. And many of the titles inside are even older than the facility that houses them, with almost 1,000 “incunables” – items printed in Europe prior to 1501. Although the library is open to the public, given the antiquity of much of its contents, it’s understandable that it is a reference-only facility.

18. Halmstad City Library – Halmstad, Sweden

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Nature was a key inspiration for the sleek City Library in Halmstad, Sweden, as Copenhagen-based architects schmidt hammer lassen designed what is fundamentally a unique open area that interacts with the surrounding foliage. Completed in 2006, its columns are intended to visually communicate with the nearby trees, with the atrium curving around a sizable chestnut on the site. The library’s transparent glass and concrete façade allows visitors a glimpse at its facilities, which include a café and exhibition space. Meanwhile, its grass roof adds to the verdure but also acts as eco-friendly insulation while minimizing drainage needs.

17. Stuttgart City Library – Stuttgart, Germany

17-Stuttgart-City-Library-Stuttgart-Germany

Köln, Germany-based Yi Architects’ design for Stuttgart’s City Library is an awe-inspiring exercise in minimalism. What it lacks in gilded pillars and intricate ceiling frescos, it more than makes up for with gleaming, pristine surfaces and staircases – as well as airy, light spaces. It harks back to days gone by with a design that takes its influence from the Pantheon in Rome. And the bright white “heart” of the building – a multi-floor meeting area – has a linearity that harmonizes with the grid effect created by the many apertures in the cubic exterior. The library was opened to the public in 2011.

16. Tama Art University Library – Tokyo, Japan

16-Tama-Art-University-Library-Tokyo-Japan

In 2007 the Tokyo architecture world was privy to a spectacular new addition in the form of the library for Tama Art University, designed by local architects Toyo Ito & Associates. Its signature concrete and steel arches were haphazardly positioned but are there for good reason: in addition to providing the structure with its arresting appearance, they aim to give the sense that the slanted floor and front garden continue right into the building. Students can browse books or study beneath the arches, enjoy music or movies in the “temporary theater,” and even take shelter and read magazines while waiting for the bus that stops outside.

15. Vasconcelos Library – Mexico City, Mexico

15-Vasconcelos-Library-Mexico-City-Mexico

Inaugurated in 2006, Mexico City’s Vasconcelos Library was designed by local architect Alberto Kalach in part to “[reorganize] available human knowledge” – and the result is astounding. Stacks of stark shelving grace the 409,000-square-foot “megalibrary,” slicing it into neat sections, and what was once a desolate swath of the city has been transformed into a sleek temple of learning. As well as being integrated with a botanical garden, the facility acts as a showcase for the work of some of Mexico’s artists, among them Gabriel Orozco’s Ballena, which sits in the main lobby. The sculpture is made from a whale skeleton found on a reserve, and according to Orozco, it was inspired by the building itself.

14. James B. Hunt Jr. Library, North Carolina State University – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

14-James-B-Hunt-Jr-Library-North-Carolina-State-University-Raleigh-North-Carolina-USA

Oslo-based architectural firm Snohetta made its mark in Raleigh in early 2013 with the opening of North Carolina State University’sJames B. Hunt Jr. Library. The designers teamed up with local architects Pearce Brinkley Cease & Lee (now merged with Clark Nexsen) to develop the glimmering wonder, which is arguably as eco-minded as it is attractive. Thirty-one percent of the materials used in the library’s construction are recycled in origin, lighting is natural or solar energy based, and the majority of the timber was taken from sustainable forests. Both the facility’s green features and design have wowed industry insiders, and the striking structure was honored with an American Institute of Architects/American Library Association Library Building Award in 2013.

13. State Library of New South Wales – Sydney, Australia

13-State-Library-of-New-South-Wales-Sydney-Australia

The public State Library of New South Wales holds the honor of being the oldest institution of its kind in Australia. It was originally established as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826, but it wasn’t until 1942 that its permanent home was ready. Designed in a Classical style by Sydney architect Walter Liberty Vernon and completed in 1910, the magnificent sandstone Mitchell Wing is one of the architectural highlights. Its main reading room has tall bookshelves around its perimeter and skylights that flood the space in light. The library also acts as a cultural pinnacle, for it houses an exceptional array of Australiana donated to New South Wales’ citizens by the facility’s namesake, collector David Scott Mitchell.

12. Bibliotheca Alexandrina – Alexandra, Egypt

12-Bibliotheca-Alexandrina-Alexandra-Egypt

While the fabled Royal Library of Alexandria may have been destroyed hundreds of years ago, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, inaugurated in 2002, aims to rekindle some of its scholarly spirit. Norwegian architects Snohetta’s cascading 11-level design gives the library room for eight million books, as well as four museums, the same number of art galleries, and even a planetarium. The gray Aswan granite walls are etched with 120 different scripts to pay tribute to the richness of human language, while the reading room is situated under a stunning glass roof – which is angled towards the ocean and measures almost 525 feet across.

11. Seattle Central Library – Seattle, Washington, USA

11-Seattle-Central-Library-Seattle-Washington-USA

Seattle Central Library’s distinctive and gleaming geometric design ensures that it stands out in the Pacific Northwestern city. Architect Rem Koolhaas is one of the names attached to its design. Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and local firm LMN Architects sought to envelop the 11-story building with “a continuous layer of transparency,” which was orchestrated using a skin of glass and metal. The finished article houses an estimated 1.45 million tomes and other items, as well as more than 400 computers available for public usage. The building, which opened in 2004, won praise from The New Yorker, which declared it “exhilarating,” and was also included on the American Institute of Architects’ list of America’s 150 favorite structures back in 2007.

10. Mafra National Palace Library – Mafra, Portugal

10-Mafra-National-Palace-Library-Mafra-Portugal

The library at Portugal’s Mafra National Palace, as well as the rest of the amazing Baroque/Neoclassical complex, might never have existed – as King John V promised only to build it if his wife bore him children. Fortunately, she did and, true to the king’s word, Mafra National Palace was completed by 1730. More than 35,000 leather-bound volumes – some over 500 years old – line the walls of the lovely Rococo library, which was designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa. Interesting, these tomes are preserved by bats, which are let out at night to feed on insects that might put the library’s treasures in jeopardy.

9. Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois, USA

9-Joe-and-Rika-Mansueto-Library-University-of-Chicago-Chicago-Illinois-USA

The University of Chicago’s Joe and Rika Mansueto Library has been given the nickname “The Egg,” owing in part to its distinctive oval shape. Local architectural firm Murphy/Jahn came up with an innovative solution to fitting the library into an already crowded campus: it plunges 55 feet underground. There’s space for 3.5 million volumes inside the library, with one million of them contained in metal bins and archival racks as part of the facility’s state-of-the-art automated retrieval system. Meanwhile, thanks to the domed transparent glass roof, light streams through to the reading room, yet solar heat and excessive UV rays are kept largely at bay.

8. Melk Abbey Library – Melk, Austria

8-Melk-Abbey-Library-Melk-Austria

The library at Melk Abbey in Austria was paid tribute to by Umberto Eco in the author’s famous murder mystery novel The Name of the Rose, and given the immense beauty of the place, it’s perhaps easy to see how it could have inspired such an honor. Chief among its prettiest features is the ornate, richly colored ceiling fresco by Austrian painter Paul Troger that represents Faith. Elsewhere, wooden sculptures symbolize the tetrad of faculties, Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Theology and Medicine. Approximately 90,000 volumes are contained within the lovely-looking facility, not to mention many medieval manuscripts and 850 incunables, making it historically important as well.

7. National Library of Sejong City – Sejong City, South Korea

7-National-Library-of-Sejong-City-Sejong-City-South Korea

International firm S.A.M.O.O. Architects & Engineers designed the swooping façade of the National Library of Sejong City to evoke a book page that has been turned over. Its designers dub the four-story structure with room for over three million books an “e-brary,” to reflect its mix of digital and analog facilities. Yet while inside it’s packed with conference and seminar spaces, a dining area and masses of information, its exterior hasn’t been neglected and features sculptures, trees and a book-themed park. The innovative library opened its doors in late 2013.

6. Handelingenkamer – The Hague, The Netherlands

6-Handelingenkamer-The-Hague-The-Netherlands

The Handelingenkamer library may belong to the Dutch Parliament, but its eye-catching Renaissance design – courtesy of government building architect C.H. Peters – was actually creatively influenced by the aesthetics of China. This can be seen in its red, green and gold color scheme as well as the dragonheads dotting the walls and the shapes formed by the ironwork. The library’s distinctive spiral staircase is an attractive way to access the three upper levels of books. Meanwhile, the leaded glass dome roof imbues the interior with natural light and helps ensure that whichever of the tens of thousands of books visitors peruse, they can see and read it with ease during the day.

5. Monastery of San Francisco Library – Lima, Peru

5-Monastery-of-San-Francisco-Library-Lima-Peru

The Monastery of San Francisco in Lima adds a welcome dash of brightness and beauty to the Peruvian capital city. The monastery was finished in 1774, and although it was significantly damaged in an earthquake that struck in 1970, it remains an eye-catching instance of Spanish Baroque architecture, with an entrance carved of granite that has gone on to impact the design of other holy buildings. Around 25,000 texts of some vintage can be found in the famous library here, including a Bible that dates back to around 1571 and a copy of the earliest Spanish dictionary issued by the Royal Spanish Academy.

4. Wiblinglen Abbey Library – Ulm, Germany

4-Wiblinglen-Abbey-Library-Ulm-Germany

If there’s anything to be taken from this list, it’s that if you want to find a truly stunning library, a visit to a monastery probably won’t disappoint. Even amid some stiff competition, the facility in the north wing at Germany’s Wiblingen Abbey is perhaps one of the most spellbinding of its kind in the world. Franz Martin Kühn’s gorgeous ceiling paintings top a brightly colored, ornately decorated space that was designed by Christian Wiedemann and is deservedly said to be renowned throughout southern Germany for its Rococo style. It was completed in 1744.

3. Mediatheque Sandro Penna – Perugia, Italy

3-Mediatheque-Sandro-Penna-Perugia-Italy

A glance at the Mediatheque Sandro Penna may lead one to believe that an alien craft has crash-landed in the Italian city of Perugia. However, this space-age building, completed in 2004, is actually the work of Milan-based architects Studio Italo Rota. Its pink glass exterior glows at night, and its namesake – the Perugia-born poet Sandro Penna – is given a tribute through excerpts of his writings that cover the see-through panels of the façade at the entrance. Inside, there’s also a touch of color courtesy of furnishings in the children’s area and couches, while sound insulation helps create an environment perfect for reading and study.

2. Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Library – Galway, Ireland

2-Galway-Mayo-Institute-of-Technology-Library-Ireland

Dublin architects de Blacam & Meagher used a progressive technique to design the attention-grabbing building that houses the library at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in western Ireland, as the dynamic thermal modeling technology employed in its development was still in its infancy at the time. The elaborate sails on the exterior aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but also serve a useful purpose, since they let in daylight while shielding the interior from too much sunshine. This reduces the need for mechanized climate control systems, cutting expenses and making the library – which contains 600 reader spaces – more eco friendly.

1. Admont Abbey Library – Admont, Austria

1-Admont-Abbey-Library- Admont-Austria

Situated on the Enns River in southeast Austria, the library of Admont Abbey, constructed in 1776, is breathtaking in its beauty. Baroque architect Joseph Hueber was tasked with developing the design for the dazzling hall. Resplendent in gold and white hues, the library is crowned with seven cupolas whose ceiling space is adorned by Bartolomeo Altomonte’s frescos representing different phases of human knowledge. It is also noteworthy for Joseph Stammel’s “Four Last Things” sculptures, which bring to life depictions of death, heaven, hell and the Last Judgment. Around 70,000 of the monastery’s approximately 200,000 volumes are stored here, and it is the largest library of its kind in the world.

 

 

http://www.bestvalueschools.com/50-most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/

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