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The Top 10 Most Amazing Libraries in the World

By Noah Miller


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Libraries have always had something special about them, something different and attractive, a charm of their own that continues to enchant us even today in the middle of all this evolution of mobile technology and the digitalization of books.

Books aren’t dead and we believe they never will be. So libraries will continue their existence, integrating of course this new medium – the digital books – on their shelves as well. There are all kinds of libraries around the world, big or small, with simple designs or complex and unique ones.

And then there are the most interesting and charming libraries of them all. Those are the ones everyone would love to visit at least once in their lifetime.

So if you’re curious, take a look at The Top 10 Libraries Around the Globe:

10. Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

Opened since 1852, the Boston Public Library is the second largest library in the U.S. with its over 24 million volumes and it was the first public library to lend out books. Besides the books, it has as well a large collection of DVD’s, maps, music scores and other visual materials.

The library has different branches with the most important one being the Central Library situated in the Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and it’s divided in two buildings designed and built in different times, one, the McKim building in 1895 inspired from the architecture in Rome and Paris and the Johnson building which is a more modern addition.

9. Centrale Bibliotheek in Amsterdam

Centrale Bibliotheek in Amsterdam

Designed by the architect Jo Coenen and opened in 2007, Amsterdam’s Centrale Bibliotheek is the largest in the country and the most eco-friendly building of the city. The library hosts exhibitions, presentations and many other cultural events and even has a theater, a cafe and a restaurant with a lovely overview of the city.

The design of the library puts an accent on light and space, so you won’t see any utilities popping out around inside as everything is neat and nice. The heating and cooling system are kept as natural as possible, so you if you’re into protecting nature and reading books, that’s your perfect spot.

8. Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris

Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris

Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris was one of the largest libraries in the world until it got expanded and became even larger, and has books covering all fields of knowledge.

The design of the library is quite an interesting one, with four towers in the shape of open books built around a forest courtyard. Designed by the architects at Dominique Perrault, the library was finished in 1996 and replaced the old building.

7. Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Commemorating the lost Library of Alexandria, Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trying to bring back some of the glory and excellence that the one lost back in time represented.

Opened in 2002 in Alexandria, on the Egyptian shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the library has space for holding eight million books and a reading room that spreads around over 70,000 square meters on eleven floors. There are quite a few extra additions to it, such as museums, art galleries, a planetarium, a conference center and a laboratory for manuscript restoration.

6. Stuttgart City Library

Stuttgart City Library

Opened in 2011, the Stuttgart City Library is more of a media center due to the diversity of its departments. Designed by Yi Architects, with the exterior in the shape of a cube and an open and bright interior, it became one of the most efficiently designed libraries.

Inside there’s a grand atrium with an open five floor chamber waiting for its guests and quite a few diverse departments: music, arts, children books, information literacy and a Mediothek. The predominating white tone and the bright lighting makes for an open and intimate space at the same time.

5. Library of Congress in Washington

Library of Congress in Washington

Hosting 152 million items, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is the second largest in the world after the British Library and it’s both the official library of the U.S. Congress and as well the national library of the United States.

Situated on Capitol Hill, it’s the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. and it spreads over three buildings, since its bookshelves have a total length of 838 miles. Yeah, it’s hard to grasp that number when you think of the way it relates to books and information.

4. Royal Grammar School Chained Library in Guildford

Royal Grammar School Chained Library in Guildford

One of the few to continue the medieval practice of chaining books, the Royal Grammar School Chained Library in Guildford has its origins back in the 16th century.

The idea is that important and valuable books are placed in communal areas instead being locked away somewhere where nobody would ever read them. The practice was adopted from the very beginning of the library and it’s still used today. The oldest book they have is one printed in Venice in 1480, and you can also read Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica as well.

3. St. Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai

St. Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai

Built in 565, St. Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai is one of the oldest and still running Christian monasteries in the world, holding many unique books in its collection.

For those interested, the library provides valuable codices and manuscripts written in the old times in such languages as Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Hebrew, Georgian and Aramaic and holds as well icons, mosaics and priceless liturgical objects.

2. Taipei Public Library in Beitou

Taipei Public Library in Beito

The Taipei Public Library opened a branch in the Beitou District in 2006 with a focus on ecological conservation, both in the books they store and the building itself, which paved the way for eco-friendly structures and sustainable architecture in the region.

The building itself stands out with its green roof draining water, maintaining humidity and capturing solar power, its system of recycling water for plants and toilets and its mainly use of wood for the overall construction and interior furniture. We have to admit that the library it’s quite a sight.

1. Trinity College Library in Dublin

Trinity College Library in Dublin

The Trinity College Library in Dublin, serving both the Trinity College and the University of Dublin, is the largest library in Ireland with a massive collection of about 6 million volumes, including the famous Book of Kells. The library spreads around several buildings, but the most admired one is obviously the Old Library, designed by Thomas Burgh.

It features 65-metre-long main chamber called the Long Room, built between 1712 and 1732, which houses more than 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. The Long Room initially had a flat ceiling, housing rare books on the lower level and an open gallery, but since the Library had been given permission to obtain a free copy or every book published in Great Britain and Ireland it had to be expanded in the 19th century. That’s how in 1860 the Long Room’s roof was raised to accommodate an upper gallery as well.

Given its beauty and importance it’s no wonder it has become one of the largest touristic attractions in Ireland.

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About Noah Miller

Noah is a professional journalist who has been specializing in the jewelry and watches industry since the early 2010s. He’s been contributing to Luxatic for more than eight years now, and he's also a contributor to well known publications like GQ, Esquire or Town & Country, and many watch and jewelry blogs. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process.

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