Most beautiful libraries

A library is an organized collection of information resources made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical building or room, or a virtual space.  A library's collection can include books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, films, maps, prints, documents, microform, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, e-books, audiobooks, databases, and other formats.



The Library: A World History by James WP Campbell, fellow in architecture and history of art at Queen’s College, Cambridge, with luminous photography by Will Pryce, is a magnificent book documenting 82 libraries in 20 countries. It is a story of how libraries have evolved to reflect contemporary book production, reading habits and the value placed on knowledge. And of how what has often been a passion for books has sparked the imagination of patrons, librarians, readers and architects alike.


01) The Tripitaka Koreana is a vast collection of Buddhist scriptures carved onto wooden slabs in the 13th Century.



02) Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s beautiful library at the Glasgow School of Art shows the Scottish architect and designer’s particular take on Art Nouveau.



03) The Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre at Berlin’s Humboldt University was designed by the Swiss architect Max Dudler and opened in 2009.



04) The Long Room of Trinity College Library in Dublin houses the collection’s oldest books and is lined with marble busts of great writers, philosophers and patrons of the college.



05) At the time it was built, the huge reading room of the New York Public Library was the largest of its kind at 297ft (91m) long and 51ft (16m) high.



06) Berlin’s State Library (‘Stabi’ to locals) is the location of a famous scene in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire in which angels eavesdrop on patrons’ thoughts.



07) The highly ornamented library of Altenburg Abbey in lower Austria is the work of the Baroque architect Joseph Muggenast and is decorated with frescoes by Paul Troger.



08) A brightly colored concrete staircase winds its way through the library of the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, Germany.



09) A skylight soars over five cast-iron ornamental balconies in the George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.



10) J├╝rgen Engel’s National Library of China in Beijing houses approximately 12m books and is visited by an estimated 12,000 people each day.