Libraries are among the most fascinating places for a person eager to discover knowledge. We take you on a quick tour of 10 of the best libraries around the globe.
Words: Amogh Purohit
New York Public Library, New York
The New York Public Library, apart from housing more than 50 million titles, inspires awe by its sheer grandness. Head over to the Rose Main Reading Room for proof. The library serves over 3.5 million readers. Its beauty has attracted many filmmakers and it has appeared in many Hollywood movies like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘Ghostbusters’.
The National Library of India, Kolkata
The National Library of India in Kolkata is the largest library in the country by volume. It is India’s library of public record with a huge collection of over 2.2 million books. The library is situated in a scenic corner of Kolkata, on a 30-acre green, lush plot where you can prop yourself up with a thick book and drown the din of the city. What’s interesting is that the building housing the library was once the official residence of the Lt. Governor of Bengal.
Wiblingen Monastery Library, Ulm, Germany
The Wiblingen Monastery was founded in 1093, and remodelled in the Baroque style in the 18th century. This library is a visual delight, thanks to its rich ornamentation and beautiful fresco ceilings. At the entrance is an inscription that reads, “In quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae” which means “In which are stored all treasures of knowledge and science”, a perfect quote for any library.
Musashino Art University Museum and Library, Tokyo
This is probably the most library-like library ever. Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto designed and constructed the library, all 26,900 sq. ft. of it, with light-wood bookshelves and glass. It stands as a perfect visual homage to the power of books and is fondly called ‘the forest of books’.
Liyuan Library in Beijing, China
It is located in a small village outside of Beijing. The single-story library blends into its forest surroundings. The library is made from timber beams and its exterior is covered in sticks. The twig frame draws in cold air from the lake and keeps the library well lit through the day. The library is also completely eco-friendly and made from all recyclable material.
The Library of Alexandria, Egypt
The Library of Alexandria was the greatest library in olden days, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The new one was rebuilt in 2002 and cost $220 million. The library is not just a cultural centre, but has a planetarium, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries, and sections for the blind. The building is designed like a sundial and tilts towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Marciana Library, Venice
The Marciana Library, built in the Renaissance-era, is one of the first libraries of Italy. Its construction began in 1537 and went on till 1587. Works by Venetian artists like Alessandro Vittoria, Titian, and Tintoretto proudly adorn the walls and ceilings. It holds more than 750,000 books, 13,000 manuscripts, and 24,000 prints in its collection, many of which were the result of a 1603 law that required printers to donate one copy of every book published to the library.
Trinity College Old Library, Dublin
The 200-foot Long Room is the most striking element of this library; marble busts of famous writers line the walkway, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling arches overhead.
It is also the home to the Book of Kells, a lavishly decorated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament.
Originally founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, the current structure was built in 1712.
Stuttgart City Library, Germany
From the outside, the nine-story building can appear as a monolithic cube. But at sunset, the facade’s glass bricks take on a glow, and after dark they are illuminated with blue lights. Inside, the dramatic all-white interior has a five-storey reading room shaped as an upside-down pyramid.
Probably one of the only libraries that is popular with readers even after hours thanks to the “Library for Insomniacs,” which keeps a small selection of material available all night long.
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
The largest library in the world. Period. The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution of the US. The library is open to the public, but if you want to check a book out, you need to be a member of congress or an important government official. And if you were wondering, it holds 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 million photos and prints.
If you like to pore over books at most times, then checking out one from these libraries is sure to be on your bucket list. Just remember to return it on time.
Amogh is a good friend and bad singer, an aspiring adult and a writer. He shuttles between classy
and desi very frequently. He can be reached at