Is your dream job becoming a librarian just so you can be constantly surrounded by thousands of books? Does the smell of an old book give you butterflies in your tummy every time you get a whiff of it?
If so, then you’re a certified bibliophile who will definitely appreciate these incredible libraries from around the globe!
#1. Library of Congress, Washington D.C., United States
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is America’s national library and it is the largest library in the world — featuring more than 168 million items.
Occupying 3 buildings — the Thomas Jefferson Building, John Adams Building and James Madison Memorial Building — the library has more than 39 million catalogued books, printed materials in over 470 languages and has more than 72 million manuscripts. On top of that, the library is home to the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.
#2. Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen, Denmark
First built in 1648 by King Frederik III, the national library of Denmark (also known as the Royal Danish Library), was later extended to include the chic Black Diamond building, which features a glass atrium interior and polished black granite exterior that reflects the glistening sea and beautiful harbour front.
This shiny book space is a treasure trove filled with European works, including the original manuscripts of renowned philosopher Søren Kierkegaard as well as the first-known Danish book. It also houses The National Photomuseum, a cafe, an upscale waterfront restaurant, a concert hall and 3 more exhibition halls.
#3. Stuttgart City Library, Germany
If you ever find yourself lost in the city of Stuttgart, fret not. The City Library is 9 stories tall and is shiny-white during the day and glows blue at night, so it can be easily used as a landmark!
Stunned by its exterior? Wait till you check out its pristine white interior. Designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi, the cube-shaped library was inspired by the Pantheon from ancient Rome and is painted entirely in white — the only thing that’s coloured are the books. This is what we call true minimalism!
#4. National Library of China, Beijing
Previously established as the Imperial Library of Peking in 1909 by the Qing dynasty, this book haven is actually the biggest library in Asia, storing more than 35 million items including historical Chinese collectables dating back to the ancient times.
Among the rare Chinese collectables that can be found in this historical building are inscribed tortoise shells and oracle bones from the Shang dynasty as well as ancient Buddhist manuscripts from the 6th century. In addition to that, the library also holds the largest collection of Chinese literature and historical documents in the world.
If you think that’s impressive, wait till you see the four-tiered study hall that’s often filled with students preparing for their university examinations!
#5. Musashino Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan
Simple yet extremely interesting, this library consists of only bookcases and glass exterior. That’s right, the 20-foot-high walls of this simplistic library are literally designed using bookshelves with reading areas in between. After all, what more do you need?
The library was designed by ingenious Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, who believes that to make a library you only need “books, shelves, light and beautiful places.” The library’s unique concept lies within its walls that are made of a single bookshelf that forms a spiral. The spiral indicates a “clock of numbers” with each number representing a certain book category, which eases the process of looking for a specific book.
#6. Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Egypt
Founded by Alexander the Great in around 283 BC, the Library of Alexandria was once the ancient world’s largest library, storing books and manuscripts in the form of papyrus scrolls and featuring meeting rooms, lecture halls and beautiful gardens. However, it was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago and numerous scrolls and books were lost.
The current Library of Alexandria was built in 2002 as an ode to its predecessor. Constructed by a Norwegian firm, Snøhetta, the circular building is designed to mirror a sundial and actually tilts towards the Mediterranean Sea. Made of sleek granite, the exterior of this new structure is covered in symbolic carvings etched by local artists — making it a cultural masterpiece that will hopefully be preserved for years to come.
Besides being a book depository of over 500,000 books, the library also encompasses a cultural centre, planetarium, manuscript restoration lab, art space, museum and a conference centre.
#7. British Library, London, United Kingdom
This brilliant library is the world’s largest in terms of its number of items catalogued — a whopping 150 to 200 million items across multiple countries. Almost rivalling the Library of Congress, the British Library claimed to have welcomed almost 1.5 million visitors between 2016 and 2017.
This heaven for bibliophiles also houses manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints, drawings, music scores and patents. It also receives a copy of every publication that is produced within the UK as well as Ireland. On top of that, 3 million new items are added each year!
Aside from offering an incredible catalogue collection, the British Library often hosts events such as exhibitions, talks and family events
So there you have it — some of the most amazing libraries that exist in the world. Have these fascinating homes for books inspired you to visit any of these destinations? Let us know which one you would want to visit most, in the comments section below!