Libraries collect the vast stores of human knowledge and imagination.
1. Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Although this astonishingly beautiful library looks as though it would exist only in a Disney movie rather than real life, the Admont Abbey Library was built in 1776 and remains the largest monistic library in the world. Adamant Abbey holds 700,000 books which are all accompanied by wonderful pastel paintings and wall carvings.
2. Strahov Monastery Library, Czech Republic
Containing over 200,000 books, this library hosts some of the most important titles printed in Central Europe and the decor is incredible. Not only is this library visually appealing, it alsohas geek appeal as it has two secret passageways which can be opened by faux books.
3. Geisel Library, USA
Named after Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel – although you may know him better as Dr. Seuss – this library at the University of San Diego honors the late couple who often donated to UCSD.
4. Trinity College Library, Ireland
Not only is Trinity College Library the largest library in the whole of Ireland, it also houses the Book Of Kells which is believed to have been written as early as 800 AD by celtic monks.
5. Boston Public Library, USA
Established in 1848, Boston Public Library was the first municipal library in the entire U.S.! Containing over 8.9 million books, the library was originally part of a small Massachusetts school house until architect Charles Follen McKim completed the current building – named ‘Palace For The People’ – situated in Copley Square in 1895.
6. Raza Library, India
Once part of a palace, the Raza Library was completed in 1904 but houses a collection the royal family began collecting as far back as 1774. There are now 17,000 rare or completely unique manuscripts and over 200 hand-written letters.
7. George Peabody Library, USA
The first American to be interred in Westminster Abbey, George Peabody is known as somewhat of a success story. Although he was born into a humble life, George worked his way up to become a very wealthy man who funded many museums and libraries in both the UK and USA in the early 1800s. George constructed this library in Baltimore, USA to thank the local people for their “kindness and hospitality’.
8. Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, USA
Encapsulated within a huge glass dome, Mansueto Library is the main studying hall of the University of Chicago. So students can receive any books or documents they require quickly, Mansueto actually has a robotic arm system underground that catalogues and finds certain books.
9. Villanueva Public Library, Columbia
Villanueva Library was constructed using only locally sourced materials and people. The design, which was created by four college students near to the construction, is focused around natural ventilation so visitors remain cool and comfortable.
10. The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination, USA
This extremely interesting space holds over 20,000 volumes belonging to celebrated inventor Jay Walker. Inspired by the designs of M.C. Escher, Walker’s private library is meant to focus entirely on the never-ending phenomenon of the human imagination.
11. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, USA
One of the largest libraries in the world, Beinecke Yale Library is exclusively reserved for, as I’m sure you can imagine, rare books and manuscripts. There are currently over 500,000 books in its possession and several million manuscripts, including a Gutenberg Bible.
12. Karl Lagerfeld’s Private Library, Paris
One of the largest private libraries in existence, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld owns over 60,000 books which he keeps in his Parisian apartment.
13. Bristol Central Library, England
Completed in 1906, Bristol Central Library combines Tudor Revival and Modern Movement styles to create a fascinating combination of architecture. It was also built on a slope, which is why the front half of the building has three stories while the end half has five.
14. James B. Hunt Jr Library, USA
Although this was opened extremely recently in 2013, this North Carolina State Library is host to a robotic arm system that can retrieve any of 20,000 volumes for students as well as two 3D printers.
15. Bibliotheque Nationale De France, France
Despite many parts of The National Library of France having been built back in 1886, the entire structure is still in use.
16. The Library of El Escorial, Spain
Perhaps the most interesting element of this library is the fact it is situated in the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the residence of all of Spain’s past kings. Although it is now a world heritage site, King Phillip II began the library and collected many of the books that are still held there.
17. Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany
Completed in 1744, this beautiful Baroque building is inscribed with the wonderful phrase ‘In quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae,’ meaning ‘In which are stored all treasures of knowledge and science.’
18. The Library of the San Francisco Monastery, Peru
Located in Lima, the San Francisco Monastery was built in 1672 making it one of the oldest functioning libraries in the west.
19. University of Otago Central Library, New Zealand
The University of Otago is home to several libraries, however their Central Library is by far the most impressive. The library has over 500,000 books, 9000 of which where printed before 1801, and 2000 study spaces for students.
20. Nakanoshima Library, Japan
True, this building doesn’t look traditionally Japanese but this Library constructed in 1904 actually fits in rather well with the rest of Osaka.
21. Beitou Library, Taiwan
Eco-friendly and modern, this library recycles rainwater by letting it run down its slanted roof to be used in the restrooms!
22. Victorian State Library, Australia
Victorian State Library opened in 1856, although the famous domed room (pictures above) didn’t open until 1913. This absolutely huge library is home to over 2 million books including diaries from the famous James Cook.
23. The Tianyi Pavilion Library, China
Built in 1560, Tianyi Pavilion Library is the oldest private library in Asia, and third oldest on the entire Earth. The collection, which was started by a retired imperial minister, includes over 300,000 ancient books that cannot be found anywhere else.
24. Fisher Fine Arts Library, USA
Built in the late 1800s, this University of Pennsylvania library was designed by Philadelphia’s Frank Furness, making it a historic landmark.
25. Indianapolis Public Library, USA
Originally constructed in 1917, this Indiana library has since been extended to combine older and extremely modern architecture in a harmonious and impressive display.
26. Palafoxiana Library, Mexico
The first publiclibrary in Mexico, built in 1646, this Puebla library is now one of the many buildings on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
27. University of Michigan Law Library, USA
Renowned for its Gothic architecture, the Law Library is available to all students and is located at the centre of the Michigan campus.
28. Library of Parliament, Canada
Built in 1876, the Library of Parliament was originally part of the parliamentary headquarters. The building was under construction for ten years before the builders admitted they didn’t know how to create a domed roof, and so this library became the first structure in North America to have a wrought iron roof.
29. National Library, Costa Rica
Featuring an inverted arch above glass walls, this library may now have been built to withstand the numerous earthquakes that hit Costa Rica. So make sure to have a look while you can!
30. Austrian National Library, Austria
Built in 1723, Austria’s largest library is located in the Hofburg Palace, Vienna and is host to an incredible 7.4 million books.
31. Central Library of Vancouver, Canada
If you were to look closely at this building, which ancient constructions does it remind you of? If you guessed the Roman Colosseum you’re correct! In fact, this library was based on the ancient structure and covers an entire city block to do so. Not only does it include 1.3 million volumes, Vancouver’s central library also houses retailers, offices and restaurants.
32. Klarchek Information Commons, USA
On the shores of Lake Michigan, the stunning building at Loyola University in Chicago offers even more impressive views.
33. José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico
Aptly referred to as the ‘Megalibrary’ by the Mexican press, this huge structure covers 409,000 square feet and houses over 500,000 books all hanging from glass shelves.
34. Delft University of Technology Library, Netherlands
Delft University’s Technology Library is in a field of its own when it comes to modern architecture. With the library located under what appears to be a hill, the roof is a skylight that transforms into cone.
35. Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland
As if it wasn’t enough that this library is the oldest in Switzerland, it’s one of the oldest monastic libraries in the world.
36. The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Brazil
Located in Rio de Janeiro, The Real Gabinete Português de Leitura was built in 1887 and holds more works in Portuguese than anywhere else outside of Portugal.
37. The National Library, Brazil
Another of Brazil’s incredible libraries, The National Library is the largest library in Latin America and the seventh largest on the planet.
38. Cornell Univeristy Uris Library, USA
As Cornell University is located on a rather large hill, Uris sits at the top of the ‘slope’ with the proud title of being Cornell’s oldest library. You may also recognise the room above as the ‘Harry Potter’ library.
39. Stephen A. Schwarzman Library, USA
Otherwise known as The New York Public Library, this National Historical Landmark was originally built in 1911 and houses 75 miles of shelving. As it continued to grow, an underground area was built that extends under Bryant Park.
40. Handelingenkamer, Netherlands
This library holds every record of Dutch parliamentary discussions and was very cleverly built to minimize the need for candles in a time before electricity.