Abbey Library

Abbey Library, St. Gallen, Switzerland (Source: The Telegraph)

This library founded in the 7th century by the Irish monk Gallus, was
once considered one of the chief intellectual centers in Western
Europe. This building was remodeled during the Baroque period
maintaining its emphasis on housing intellectual treasures dating back
one thousand years. The Abbey was added to the UNESCO World
Heritage site list in the 1980's.

Tianjin Binhai Library

Binhai Library, Tianjin, China (Source: The Telegraph)

This modern library, nicknamed The Eye, was completed in 2017
in Tianjin, China. It is a striking example of modern architecture
and is part of the regional Binhai Cultural Center. The building
is a multi-stored tiered structure which can hold over
1.35 million books. A popular cultural attraction, recent social
media reports suggest that many of the books in the
protruding upper tiers in the interior are just painted
replicas on make-do walls.

Vorau Abbey Library

Vorau Abbey Library, Vorau, Austria (Source: The Telegraph)

One of many renown Austrian libraries, this Baroque book
repository was founded in 1721 and has over 11,000 texts,
the oldest dating back more than 800 years. Not a large
facility, it remains special due to its beauty and its collection
of both hand decorated books and two large globes made
famous by Italian cartographer Coronelli.

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland (Source: The Telegraph)

This university library actually is comprised of multiple buildings,
the first of which was build in theearly 1700s. A well stocked
repository the library has over 7 million books (indeed, as it is a
copyright library), by Irish law, all publishers in the country must
provide a copy of any published book to the library free of
charge. The "Old Building" part of the complex is a
popular tourist attraction.

Abmont Abbey Library

Abmont Abbey Library, Austria

Many western Europe libraries were built as part of Abbeys. The
Admont Library is one of the largest of such book depositories.
Completed in 1776, the design was in line with the Enlightenment
paying particular attention to rooms filled with light. Ceiling
frescoes add to beauty of library. A popular tourist site,
the open structure makes touring the 70,000-book facility easy.

Grimm Library

Grimm Library, Berlin, Germany (Source: The Telegraph)

This large somewhat austere library contains 2.5 million texts and
manuscripts. Teutonic in style, the facility was built in 2009.
The interior is ceiling free creating an airy feel, but it is not
particularly ornate. Books are the focus here.

Lusatian Library

Lusatian Library, Gorlitz, Germany (Source: The Telegraph)

Somewhat of a contrast to the aforementioned Grimm library in
terms of design, the Lusatian Library is an Enlightenment
inspired building founded in 1779. Located in Gorliz, Germany,
the library is formally known as The Upper Lusatian Library
of Sciences. It has 110,000 volumes almost all devoted
to science. Lusatian Library is often cited as one of the
most beautiful libraries in Western Europe.

St. Peter's Abbey Library

St. Peter's Abbey Library, Salzburg, Austria (Source: The Telegraph)

St. Peter’s Library is the oldest library in Austria. Located in one
of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Salzburg (which is also the
birthplace of Mozart), the library is part of St. Peter’s Abbey, a
Benedictine monastery, which was founded in 696. The book
repository houses over 100,000 volumes many of which focus
on Benedictine monastery beliefs and practices as well as the
history of its home city Salzburg. The building was converted to a
new structure in the Rococo style in 1768. Restored in 1999
the site can only be visited with special permission.

The Public Library Stuttgart

The Public Library, Stuttgart, Germany (Source: The Telegraph)

This grey concrete cube shaped library was completed in 2011.
The intriguing entrance to the building was inspired by the
"Cenotaph for Newton" has nine stories. It is a public library and
is 20,225 sq. meters in area. By intent of the city of Stuttgart
planners, the library is located in the center of town and is
pointedly intended to be the centerpiece of a new
intellectual and cultural center.

Anna Amalia Library

Anna Amalia Library, Weimar, Germany (Source: The Telegraph)

Opened to the public in 1691, this library, named after the Duchess
Anna Amelia, is home to 1 million book, 2,000 manuscripts, 10,000
maps and 4,000 musical scores. This library became renown
throughout Europe in the 18th century due to its extensive collection
of cultural history . The older part of the library is designed in the
Rococo tradition. A popular destination, the library limits visitors
to 290 per day

Oxford Union Library

Oxford Union Library (Source: The Telegraph)

Generally considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the
United Kingdom, this college facility was built in 1857 and was
originally the debating chamber of the Oxford Union. The library
is a marvelous example of Victorian architecture. It is well
known for its murals which adorn the walls and were painted by
William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; perfect works of art
that represent Pre-Raphaelite art. The library has a large and
extensive literary collection.

Lincoln Oxford Library

Lincoln/Oxford Library (Source: The Telegraph)

The library at Lincoln College in Oxford, U.K. is one of the
college’s most striking architectural structures within the
college grounds. Built sometime in the 1700’s the building
was originally a church and it still retains its bells. The library
holds over 60,00 books and is a popular visiting site for both
students and tourists. Due to its popularity, access is
limited to students and staff.

Philips Exeter Library

Philips Exeter Library, New Hampshire. (Source: The Telegraph)

An unusual entry into a list of the most beautiful libraries this
preparatory school facility located in Exeter, New Hampshire,
United States. The school’s library dates to the early 1800s,
but its current edifice was completed in 1972. The book
repository has over 160,000 volumes, one of the largest such
collections of any secondary school in the world.

Seattle Library

Seattle Library, Washington, USA.

The Seattle Public Library was established in 1890 and is a
system with 26 branches. Most notable of these branches is
the Seattle Central Library located in downtown Seattle. This
branch, which was built over the previous city library location,
was completed in 2004. The facility cost over $160 million and
has 362,987 sq. feet. Highly modern in design, the library is best
known for its "Books Spiral" where the nonfiction collection
spirals up 4 stories in a continuous series of shelves.

Los Angeles Library

Los Angeles Library, California, USA.

The Los Angeles Central Library is one of 86 branches of the
Los Angeles public library system. Located in downtown
Los Angeles, the original building was constructed in 1926. In
1993 an addition, named after former LA mayor Tom Bradley,
was built. The edifice is a designated Los Angeles Historic
Cultural Monument. It is considered, along with the Bradbury
Building and Union Station as downtown Los Angeles
architectural treasures.


Oodi Library

Oodi Library, Helsinki, Finland

This stunning public library was inaugurated on December 5, 2018.
In addition to the library, it has spectacular terraces where you
can watch movies, live performances, try 3D printing and dine
in one of the two cafe's.

 Benediktinerabtei Library, Germany. (Source: National Geographic)

Initially the Benedictine-Abbey at Metten (Germany) which
includes the library was established in 766. After much political
turmoil over centuries, the abbey was essentially destroyed or
parceled out. King Ludwig I of Bavaria helped to reestablish the
abbey and its wonderful library. This building is a testament
to the Rocco period, although sometimes paying more attention
to its intricate columns and archways and less so to the easy
access to its treasures contained within – the books.


Convento de San Francisco Library, Peru. (Source: National Geographic)

The Convento de San Francisco is a Peruvian monastery
located in Peru’s capital city of Lima. Within the monastery
there is church, convent and a library. Completed in 1674, the
buildings are good examples of Spanish Baroque architecture.
The library is world-renowned and contains nearly 25,000 texts,
some going back to before the conquest. The monastery was
added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991.



Emmeram Library, Germany. (Source: National Geographic)

A German library part of the Benedictine monastery of
Saint Emmeram located in present-day Regensburg. It is known
for helping to spearhead the acceptance of the international
style of polyphony throughout Central Europe. The library
maintains an important collection of documents that led to the
development of  Europe’s musical style from the Middle Ages
to the Renaissance.


Girolamini Library, Italy. (Source: National Geographic)

Rising three stories amid baroque plasterwork and frescoes, this huge
volume Italian beauty has a history dating back to at least the
18th century. The historic texts contained within its walls provided
insight into the history of Italy, particularly Naples where it resides.
Alas, the library was besieged by a crime ring in 2012, stealing antique
books and selling them onto the black. Many of these valuable books
have been recovered, but it does show that even libraries,
and especially the contents, must be protected.


Real Gabinete Library, Brazil. (Source: National Geographic)

The elegant Real Gabinet is a 19th century library located in the heart
of Rio de Janeiro. A beautiful Neo-Manueline designed structure
mirroring the Gothic-Renaissance style of the time. The façade was
carved out of limestone in Lisbon and then sent to Rio de Janeiro.
The library also boasts an open busy interior filled with its vast
collection of rare books. Indeed, Real Gabinet houses the most
valuable collection of Portuguese texts outside of Portugal –
holding more than 350,000 volumes.


Angelica Library, Italy. (Source: National Geographic)

The current building was completed in the mid 18th century but the
library traces it roots to the end of the 13th century. It has the
distinction of being Europe’s first public library, opening to the public
in 1614. Today the book repository holds nearly 200,000 books
including 11,000 dating back to the 16th century. It is widely
considered one of Europe’s most beautiful libraries.


Archivo de Indias Library, Spain. (Source: National Geographic)

This beautiful library is housed in the ancient merchant’s
exchange in Seville, Spain, which dates back to 1584. The
edifice is a prime example of the Spanish Renaissance
architecture. Housed in the facility are documents that
describe and illustrate the history of the Spanish Empire’s
experiences in both the Americas and the Philippines. As with
many of the marvelous libraries featured on this page,
this library was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As evidenced by the image above, the interior alone is
worthy of a visit.


Knihovna Library, Czech Repulblic. (Source: National Geographic)

This stunningly beautiful library located in Prague in the Czech
Republic. A popular tourist destination with a unique and warm
interior that also provides a great view of the city.


National Central Library, Taiwan. (Source: National Geographic)

A pride of the nation of Taiwan, the National Central Library is the
sole national library in Taiwan. It boasts one of the leading
collections of Chinese antique books and manuscripts in the
world. The library also supports a variety of Chinese research
projects throughout the world. Opened in Taiwan in 1949,
the library holds over 4 million books and documents.


Sainte-Genevieve Library, France. (Source: National Geographic)

This Parisian gem was, initially, likely built in the 10th century, having
been erected as a monastic library. Redesigned and updated, the
library was reopened in 1851, appearing more cathedral-like than its
earlier life. This well stacked bibliotheque, is now used as the library
of the Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne university.


Corsiniana Library, Italy. (Source: National Geographic)

Corsiniana Library dates back to the 15th century. Located in Rome,
this classic Italian structure houses a large collection of texts related
to ancient medical and scientific documents and is often used by
academics to glean more about ancient medical practices. In recent
years the library has embarked on an extensive digitization
of its collections.


Duke D"Aumale Library, France. (Source: National Geographic)

In 1848 The Duke of Aumale began to collect paintings,
drawings and in particular books. To house his growing
collection, he built a two level metal structure (typical of
library architecture in the second half of the 19th century)
on his property. An interesting feature of whatThe Duke
referred to as the "Reading Room", is that the iron
shelving is trimmed in leather to protect the binding of the
books to the shelves. Today the library contains over
60,000 documents and manuscripts.


Joanina Library, Portugal. (Source: National Geographic)

Part of the University of Coimbra, located in Coimbra, Portugal,
this marvelous edifice, was completed in 1728. The Joanina
Library’s grand and intricate archways are a fine touch to
complement the strong teak doors and walls the make up this
2 story 70,000 + book historic and beautiful library.


Municipal Library, Portugal. (Source: National Geographic)

Portugal is known as a book lovers’ destination of choice. The
Municipal Library of Portugal is a splendid example of why this
is the case. Dating back to 1842, at which time the library held
over 36,000 volumes plus 300 manuscript codices, it was
transformedinto a municipal library in 1877. The library’s
interior is one of the most photographed in the world.


Teresiana Library, Italy. (Source: National Geographic)

Located in Mantua, Italy, Teresiana Library was completed
in 1763, initially as a Jesuit college, and opened to the public in
1870. It holds Mantua’s most treasured books, maps, documents
and has a notable collection of globes. Today the library’s
collection includes 44,000 books.


Civica Library, Italy. (Source: National Geographic)

The Biblioteca Civica di Fermo is an Italian public library located in
the town center of Fermo. A relatively small quaint library, it was
founded in 1688 by the physician Romolo Spezioli (once the physician
to Pope Alexander VIII). Despite its size, the library has an important
collection of medicinal documents related to the practice of
medicine in the 18th century.


Codrington Library, England. (Source: National Geographic)

Another Oxford, England located library on this list, Codrington is
the library of All Souls College, a graduate school of
The University of Oxford. Completed in 1851 the library
currently houses 185,000 volumes and documents and its
use is available to all students and faculty throughout
the Oxford system. Its portfolio of books and manuscripts
have a concentration in law and history
(particularly military history).


Kremsmunster Library, Austria. (Source: National Geographic)

Associated with the Kresmunster Abbey and completed in 1689,
this stunning library is considered among the greatest in Austria.
Its stacks are home to over 160,000 books and manuscripts,
the latter of which includes the famous 8th century manuscript the
Codex Millenarius. By design, this hilltop library is not overly opulent
but was meant for the pursuit of knowledge as well as for beauty.

Carnegie Library

Carnegie Library, Washington, D.C.

The Carnegie Library of Washington D.C., also known as the
Central Public Library, is situated in
Mount Vernon Square,
Washington, D.C. Donated to the public by entrepreneur
Andrew Carnegie, it was dedicated on January 7, 1903. It was
the first public library. It was also D.C.'s first desegregated
public building. In December 2016 and agreement was made
with Apple to open a store in the library. The store opened
on May 11, 2019.

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