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12 of the world's most beautiful libraries

How cool can libraries be in an era of iPads and Kindles?
More than you think, if you know where to go.

12. Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland and holds about 160,000 volumes. The library was founded by Saint Othmar, who founded the Abbey of St. Gall in 719. This is one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world, and holds manuscripts from as far back as the 8th century. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization named the library a World Heritage site in 1983, calling it a “a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery”. Many of the rare manuscripts that the library holds can be accessed through this website, and the public is welcome to use the library, although pre-1900 books must be read on site.

11. Seattle Central Library, Seattle, WA

The Seattle Central Library opened in 2004 and features a beautiful glass and steel modern design created by architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA/LMN. The goal of the design was to make an inviting open and airy space, avoiding the popular perception of libraries as dark and stuffy. The library can hold up to 1.45 million books and materials, and serves over 2 million patrons a year.

10. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto, Canada

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book library is the largest rare book collection in Canada. The library is affiliated with the University of Toronto. The collection includes numerous notable works, including Newton’s Principia (1687), Shakespeare’s First Folio, the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), and a Babylonian cueniform tablet that dates to 1789 BC. The library also contains a large and notable collection donated by a man named Robert S. Kenny, who was a Communist Party of Canada member. The collection is made up of over 25,000 items dealing with labor movements worldwide, with a particular emphasis on Canada.

9. New York Public Library, New York, New York

The New York Public Library is awe inspiring in its scope and breadth. It is the the third largest library in North America, has over 50 million items in its collection, and consists of 87 libraries serving 3.5 million people. The Rose Main Reading Room features grand windows and chandaliers, as well as a beautiful gilded and painted ceiling. The Library special collections include the first Gutenberg Bible to come to America, and a special emphasis on Americana. The Library is one of the most recognizable on our list, with multiple appearances in feature films, with its inclusion as a key setting in the film “The Day After Tomorrow” and as the setting of a significant portion of the movie “Ghostbusters”.

8. Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada

The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada is a Canadian landmark, so much so that it adorns the back of the Canadian ten dollar bill. The building was inspired by the British Museum Reading Room. The walls of the Library are supported by 16 flying buttresses, and the main reading room has a vaulted ceiling complementing the walls and stacks which featured white pine paneling with beautifully detailed carvings of flowers, masks, textures, and mythical creatures. The collection of the Library consists of over 600,000 items, curated by a staff of 300. Access to the facility is generally restricted to Canadian parliamentary business, but tours are often made available.

7. Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library is the first publicly supported library in the US. It was established in 1848 and has since grown to its present collection size of 22 million items, which makes it the second largest library in the United States. The Central Library consists of two buildings, the Johnson Building and the beautiful McKim Building. The McKim building houses the library’s research collection and exhibitions. It was built in 1895 and contains many beautiful murals, including Edward Abbey’s most famous that depicts the legend of the Holy Grail. The main room of the McKim building is Bates Hall which has an amazing coffered ceiling. The research collection at McKim is made up of over 1.7 million rareties, including many medieval manuscripts, incunabula, early Shakespeare that includes a First Folio, colonial Boston records, a major Daniel Defoe collection, and the libraries of many famous men of history including John Adams, William Lloyd Garrison, and Nathaniel Bowditch.

6. National Library of St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy

The National Library of St. Mark’s is a Renaissance building and is home to one of the most important classical texts collection on earth. The Library was built over a lengthy period of time and began in 1537, but the collection began as early as 1468 when Cardinal Bessarion gifted his collection of 250 manuscripts and 750 codices. Beginning in 1603 a law was created that required one copy of all books printed in Venice to be housed at the National Library. The Library today holds more than a million books, over 13,000 manuscripts, 2883 incunabula, and more than 24,000 16th century works.

5. Vatican Library, Vatican City, Rome

The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See and one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was established in 1475, but existed in early forms roughly since the beginning of the Catholic Church. The library has added to its collection over the years primarily through bequests and gifts. The Vatican Library currently holds over 1.1 million books, 75,000 manuscripts, and over 8,500 incunabula. The library owns the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible and many other important medieval works.

4. Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT

The Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the largest building in the world that has the express purpose of preserving rare books and manuscripts. The library’s holdings are incredible and include special collections of numerous important writers including Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, and Joseph Conrad. The central shelving area of Beinecke is a beautiful structure with glass walls and soft lighting that protect the works from direct light. The library is accessible to the public and it’s exhibition hall displays many of the library’s rare works, including an original Gutenberg Bible, one of only 48 copies.

3. Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England

The Reading Room at the British Museum is found in the center of the Great Court of the British Museum. The structure has a domed roof, and the ceiling is made of a kind of papier-mâché. For much of the Room’s history, access was only granted to registered researches, and during this period many notable figures studied at the Library, including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Ghandi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells. The Library’s collection was moved to the new British Library in 2000 and the Reading Room now houses an information center and a curated collection of books relating to history, art, travel and other subjects relevant to the collection’s of the British Museum. Right now, and since 2006, the Reading Room has been housing a temporary exhibition centered around China’s famous Terracotta Army

2. Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK

The Bodleian Library is the library of the University of Oxford. It was established in 1602, making it one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The Library has over 11 million items, and many, many items of historical import, including four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Shakespeare’s First Folio (from 1623.) The Library consists of multiple buildings, perhaps the most visually interesting of which is Radcliffe Camera, built in 1737-1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It’s the earliest circular library in England, and has appeared in multiple films, including “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “The Saint”, “The Red Violin”, and “The Golden Compass”.

1. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

The Library of Congress is essentially the national library of the United States and the oldest federal cultural institution in the US. The library consists of three different buildings and is the largest library in the world as measured by shelf space and number of volumes. The library is open to the public, but as the research institution of Congress only members of Congress (and Supreme Court justices and certain other government officials) may check out books. Interestingly, the library serves a function as the “library of last resort” in the US, making certain items available to other United States libraries if they are not available via other means. The holdings of the library are impressive and varied, and include over 32 million books, more than 61 million manuscripts, a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a perfect vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible (one of only four in the world), over 1 million newspapers from the last three centuries, over 5 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music, and more than 14 millions photos and prints.
12 of the world's most beautiful libraries 12 of the world's most beautiful libraries Reviewed by Admin on 2:09:00 PM Rating: 5