For many of us, the early years spent in our local libraries were key to growing our burgeoning love of literature and turning us into the bookworms we are today. I can still remember the brightly colored walls and cushy chairs of the children’s section in my hometown library. I’d spend hours there perusing the shelves looking for the perfect picture books to take home. In my teen years I’d head to the back of the library and sit by the windows in the soft leather chairs of the sadly neglected reference section, ready to devour the latest from Sarah Dessen or Laurie Halse Anderson.
Libraries all over the world have sparked immense love from those who grew up inside them, or those who have visited them and been awed by their beauty. Here are some of our favorite libraries around the world:
Trinity College Old Library, The Long Room
If you love the smell of old books, The Long Room at Trinity College Old Library is perfect for you. Constructed in the 18th century, the Long Room contains 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books in oak cases. Marble statues of philosophers, writers and supporters of Trinity College line the hall, and the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript, can be found here.
National Library of the Czech Republic, Baroque Library Hall
Prague, Czech Republic
Founded in 1722, this hall boasts 20,000 books, mostly theological texts. The hall is decorated with gorgeous frescoes, numerous globes, and various inscriptions. It not only holds Czech texts, but texts from Iran, Turkey, and India as well.
George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University
If you’re dreaming of the perfect bookish wedding, the Peabody library is the place for you. Built in the 1860s, is one of the most beautiful places on the East Coast with its black and white marble slab floor, a latticed skylight and cast-iron balconies. It holds 300,000 works, mainly focused on works of religion, British art, architecture, biography, geography, and more.
The British Library
The national library of the United Kingdom, the British Library contains over 150 million items with 3 million items added every year! Visitors enjoy display items such as Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, Beatles manuscripts, and a little-known thing called the Magna Carta. There are also benches shaped in the style of an open book, so have yourself a sit and enjoy a nice British read.
Austrian National Library
Enjoy a schnitzel outside the Hofburg Palace before heading into the Austrian National Library, where you can peruse over 7 million items. Having been around in some form since the Middle Ages, the library has been a part of Austria’s history—both good and bad—ever since. With gorgeous baroque architecture, this literary landmark is also home to the world’s only public globe museum, containing over 380 globes.
The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
New York, NY
The second largest public library in the United States (behind the Library of Congress), the NYPL hosts branches in three of New York’s five boroughs. Its Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is guarded by Patience and Fortitude, the lion statues that sit outside the main entrance. The Rose Main Reading Room is home to thousands of reference books and has appeared in such movies as The Wiz, The Day After Tomorrow, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Ghostbusters.
Situated beautifully on the Venetian Lagoon off of the Adriatic Sea, the Marciana Library in Venice looks like something from a dream. The building was constructed in the mid-1500s and currently holds works that specialize on the history of Venice and classic philology. It’s also home to one of the earliest and greatest collections of manuscripts in Europe.
Bodleian Library, Oxford University
A collection of scholarly libraries first open to scholars in 1602, the Bodleian Library group is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and contains over 12 million items. If you’re hoping to find a book of spells you won’t have to go far. One Bodleian building, the Duke Humfrey’s Library, was used as the Hogwarts Library for the first two Harry Potter films.
National Library of China
The third largest national library in the world, the National Library of China is also one of the newest establishments among beloved libraries–it’s only been around for a little over one hundred years. Holding about 30 million items, the National Library of China is home to various artifacts from ancient dynasties.
Part of the University of Coimbra, this Baroque library dates back to the 1700s. Oak bookshelves reach two stories high, and Chinese motifs are used to decorate the interior. This three-story building contains approximately 57,000 volumes.
Have you been to any of these libraries? Do you have a favorite that wasn’t included on this list? Leave us a comment and let us know!