The World's Best Libraries

If you ever had any doubt as to the importance of the humble book one must look at the exquisite works of art man has been building in homage over the ages.

From prestigious seats of learning through religious sanctuaries to global national treasures here is our list of libraries around the world that are absolutely worth a visit.


University Libraries

Bodleian Library and divinity school, Oxford, UK

Bodleian Library and Divinity School. Photo Credit: Bodleian Libraries Blogs.

Bodleian Library and Divinity School. Photo Credit: Bodleian Libraries Blogs.

The UK’s foremost library, the “Bod” is one of the oldest in Europe. For the past 400 years every book that has ever been printed in the UK has been housed there.

Highlights include the “Duke Humfrey’s Medieval Library”, the circular Radcliffe Camera and the 15th-century Divinity School.

 

UNAM Central Library – Mexico City, Mexico

UNAM Central Library. Photo Credit: Contemporary Art Daily.

UNAM Central Library. Photo Credit: Contemporary Art Daily.

Best known for its exterior murals, made from brightly coloured stones, which cover the ten-story building. The mosaic designed by Mexican architect and painter Juan O’Gorman recounts the history of the country.

 

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

George Peabody Library, Photo Credit: Patch.

George Peabody Library, Photo Credit: Patch.

This spacious Greek Revival-style library houses a collection of 300,000 volumes, many from the 19th century. The library's atrium rises 61 feet into the air, peaking with a latticed skylight, gold scalloped columns and tiered, cast-iron balconies.

 

Tama Art University Library – Tokyo, Japan

Tama Art University Library. Photo Credit: Medium.com.

Tama Art University Library. Photo Credit: Medium.com.

Designed by local architects Toyo Ito & Associates the seemingly haphazard creation of concrete and steel arches cleverly give the illusion that the slanted floor and front garden continue right into the building.

 

Brandenburg University of Technology Library – Cottbus, Germany

Brandenburg University of Technology Library. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Brandenburg University of Technology Library. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron the same team that designed the Tate Modern in London the skin of the building is covered with myriad lettering in various alphabets and languages.

 

Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Old Library, Trinity College. Photo Source: WCSA World.

Old Library, Trinity College. Photo Source: WCSA World.

Home to the Book of Kells, the splendidly embellished Gospel volume which dates to the early 9th century, the 18th-century Long Room contains 200,000 of the library’s oldest books, and marble busts of writers and philosophers.


National Treasures

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Austrian National Library. Photo Source: Onb.ac.at.

Austrian National Library. Photo Source: Onb.ac.at.

Austria’s largest library is also its most spectacular. The central State Hall is an extraordinary combination of baroque flair with traditional library design.

 

Klementinum Library, Prague

Klementinum Library. Photo Source: Lonely Planet.

Klementinum Library. Photo Source: Lonely Planet.

This baroque gem is graced with a ceiling adornment by Jan Hiebl that celebrates ancient learning and wisdom. The main room is filled with antique globes and clocks as well as books and tomes that date back to the Jesuit era.

 

National Library of Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

National Library of Brazil. Photo Source: Bibliotheca Sanctus.

National Library of Brazil. Photo Source: Bibliotheca Sanctus.

This institution 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.

 

Royal Portuguese Reading Room – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Royal Portuguese Reading Room. Photo Source: MSN.com.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room. Photo Source: MSN.com.

The stylish Royal Portuguese Reading Room features a gorgeous multi-coloured skylight and 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.

 

Seattle Central Library – Seattle, Washington, USA

Seattle Central Library. Photo Source: Headers.

Seattle Central Library. Photo Source: Headers.

This distinctive and gleaming monument houses an estimated 1.45 million tomes and other items, as well as more than 400 computers available for public usage.

 

Stuttgart City Library – Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart City Library. Photo Source: WCSA World.

Stuttgart City Library. Photo Source: WCSA World.

Gleaming, pristine surfaces, airy light space, a minimalist dream. The design takes its influence from the Pantheon in Rome. A multi-floor meeting area has a linearity that harmonizes with the grid effect created by the many apertures in the cubic exterior.

 

Library of Birmingham – Birmingham

Library of Birmingham. Photo Source: Birmingham Mail.

Library of Birmingham. Photo Source: Birmingham Mail.

Britain's biggest public library is a dazzling postmodern concoction of silver, glass and gold interlocking metal rings designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo.


Abbey Libraries

Admont Abbey Library – Admont, Austria

Admont Abbey Library. Photo Source: Enviedart.

Admont Abbey Library. Photo Source: Enviedart.

The largest library of its kind in the world is resplendent in gold and white hues with ceilings space adorned by Bartolomeo Altomonte's frescos and Joseph Stammel's "Four Last Things" sculptures.

 

Wiblinglen Abbey Library – Ulm, Germany

Wiblinglen Abbey Library. Photo Source: Veranda.

Wiblinglen Abbey Library. Photo Source: Veranda.

Featuring gorgeous ceiling paintings by Franz Martin Kuen this Rococo style space completed in 1744 is renowned throughout southern Germany.


 

August 9th, National book lover’s day, is an unofficial holiday observed by bibliophiles all over the world to celebrate the joy of reading and the literary arts. Visit our library in store for the perfect library addition or decorative coffee table book.