Libraries are the treasure troves in which prized artifacts – books, in this case – are kept and protected. Rather than hiding these valuables from anyone but royalty, though, libraries provide a place where anyone can go, see, and read the treasures within. Libraries exist in many forms – from a few shelves in the back of a classroom, glorified bird houses with a “give and take” policy dotted through neighborhoods, floor to ceiling stacks in modern universities, and community spaces with donated titles and due dates. Libraries are sanctuaries for readers and knowledge seekers alike and each provides a unique experience...Read on for a look at these beautiful buildings all around the world, from the past and present. Which ones will you be adding to your literacy bucket list???
Abbey Library of St. Gall - St. Gallen, Switzerland
The library was founded by Saint Othmar, founder of the Abbey of St. Gall. During a fire in 937, the Abbey was destroyed, but the library remained intact. The library hall, designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style, was constructed between 1758 and 1767. A Greek inscription above the entrance door translates as "apothecary of the soul."
Admont Abbey Library - Admont, Austria
The Admont Abbey Library is an Austria-based monastic library located in Admont, a small town next to the Enns River in Austria, and is attached to the Admont Abbey. Admont Abbey Library is the largest monastic library in the world, and is noted for its Baroque art, architecture, and manuscripts.
Bodleian Library - Oxford, UK
The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Its name derives from its founder, Sir Thomas Bodley. First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library built by the University in the 15th century to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. With over 13 million printed items, it is the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library.
George Peabody Library - Baltimore, Maryland, US
In 1857, George Peabody, a Massachusetts-born philanthropist, dedicated the Peabody Institute to the citizens of Baltimore in appreciation of their “kindness and hospitality.” The library building opened in 1878 and was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind. The stack room contains five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies, which rise dramatically to the skylight 61 feet above the floor.
Library of Parliament - Ottawa, Canada
The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada. The main branch of the library is the last untouched part of that larger building's original incarnation after it burned down in 1916. The library has been augmented and renovated several times since its construction in 1876, the last between 2002 and 2006, though the form and decor remain authentic. The building today serves as a Canadian icon and appears on the obverse of the Canadian ten-dollar bill.
Royal Portuguese Reading Room - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading is a library once elected the fourth most beautiful library in the world by Time magazine. The institution was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants to promote culture among the Portuguese community in the Empire of Brazil. The building of the current headquarters, designed by the Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva e Castro, was erected between 1880 and 1887 in Neo-Manueline style. The interior also follows the Neo-Manueliene style on the covers, wooden bookcases for books and memorials. The ceiling of the Reading Room has a beautiful chandelier and a skylight in iron structure, the first example of this type of architecture in Brazil.
Stuttgart City Library - Germany
The Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart is the public library of the city of Stuttgart. From 1965 to 2011, the central library was located in the Wilhelmspalais, built 1834 - 1840 by Giovanni Salucci as the residence of the Württemberg king. In 2011, it was moved to the newly built Stadtbibliothek am Mailänder Platz. It is organized as a department of the city's cultural office and comprises the central library, 17 city district libraries, and two bookmobiles. In 2013, it received the national award as Library of the Year.
Tianjin Binhai Library - China
Tianjin Binhai Library was opened in October 2017 and features floor-to-ceiling, terraced bookshelves able to hold 1.2 million books. The library is nicknamed 'The Evil Eye' because the sphere, which appears like an iris, can be seen from the park outside through an eye-shaped opening. In the first week after opening day, approximately 10,000 people visited per day.