Reading is probably one of my favorite things to do, but as a graduate student I don’t have a lot of extra money for going to local bookstores and filling up a shopping cart. Because of this, I spend a lot of time at libraries– both local branches and the one at my school. And though they’re great resources for all kinds of books (and audiobooks), they’re not exactly awe-inspiring.
If you find yourself in the same boat, let’s start planning a trip to some of these amazing libraries around the world, with at least one in almost every continent.
1. National Library of China, Beijing
This library has more than 31 million items including books, Chinese literature, and historical documents. This gorgeous library is the largest in Asia and one of the biggest libraries in the entire world. We could spend a few days exploring it and still not know everything it has to offer.
2. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Connecticut
Although this manuscript library is closed for some extensive renovations right now, we can visit it after it reopens in September 2016 to find out what they’ve changed and improved. Its marble exterior protects the valuable materials from direct sunlight while the glass enclosure that holds the books provides climate control to protect them from visitors.
3. Stuttgart City Library, Germany
Europe’s addition to our list is a huge nine-story library. The first four floors are your standard building shape, but the upper five floors form a pyramid with a glass ceiling. The inside is just as beautifully designed and is ready for us to visit- and those little blue couches look like the perfect place to relax with a good book.
4. Rand Club Reading Room, Johannesburg
Although this particular library is members only, it has more than 10,000 books, magazines, newspapers, and “irreplaceable treasures.” Maybe we can sneak in and take a look at their beautiful books. Who’s with me?
5. Adelaide City Library, Australia
This library is home to some absolutely stunning architecture, in addition to all of the books. The ceiling has a glass dome in the middle of it to add some natural light and let us enjoy a little bit of nature without actually having to go outside.
6. The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Brazil
This South American library was completed in 1887 and apparently holds more Portuguese works than anywhere else outside of Portugal. It’s a beautiful building with some rare works, an amazing chandelier and an iron skylight. It has a wealth of information to offer us on top of the beautiful architecture.
7. National Art Library, London
If you also love art, you can try out the National Art Library in Kensington. It has reference materials about all kinds of art, from painting, to textiles, to woodwork and sculptures. It does have books too, but some of those books are works of art themselves and aren’t kept for reading.
8. Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College’s library is the largest research library in Ireland AND it’s the legal deposit library for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. This means that it gets a copy of every book that’s published in those countries. That results in the library acquiring about 100,000 new works every year. I think that could keep us busy for a little while.
Although there are probably hundreds more beautiful libraries in a bunch more countries, this list will give you a good starting point to plan your trip. Once you’ve hit all of these libraries, you can definitely say that you’re a well-read person who’s been to (almost) every continent.
Once they build a library in Antarctica, I’ll update this list so we can make it there too.
Featured photo credit: Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart via flic.kr