1. George Peabody Library, Baltimore
This beautiful library has a cathedral-like interior with marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and open balconies. It is part of Johns Hopkins University, but it’s still free to use for all, and it is home to over 300,000 books. This library is actually a popular wedding venue. Getting married surrounded by books? What a great idea!
2. Central Public Library, Vancouver, Canada
This library looks like the Colosseum. It’s nine floors high and takes up an entire city block. It also has retail stores (including a book-lover’s shop), coffee shops, an exhibition space for art, and a rooftop garden (where food and drink is allowed). Everything you need to enjoy your next read! This one is definitely on my must-visit list.
3. Trinity College Old Library, Dublin, Ireland
Okay, I actually have visited this library already, but I couldn’t leave it off this list! With two levels of books, barrel-vaulted ceilings, and marble busts, the Old Library is very stately and elegant. It is home to thousands of rare and old books. Unfortunately, as a visitor, you cannot go to the upper levels or look at the books (they are very old, after all), and you must stay in the middle aisle. Still, it is a beautiful library to visit.
4. Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
This library dates back to the eighth century, although its current, heavily decorated form was constructed in the mid-18th century. The painted ceiling and the amazing woodwork, all in the opulent Rococo style, make this one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The library is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses more than 150,000 books—and best of all, you can actually read the books (although, I can’t read German or French, so the point may be moot)! Books printed after 1900 can be borrowed, and those printed earlier can be viewed in the Reading Room.
5. Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With over 400,000 rare manuscripts and books housed in the three stories of decorated bookcases, topped by a beautiful chandelier and stained-glass windows, this library is picturesque and perfect for book lovers.
6. Beitou Public Library, Taipei, Taiwan
This library has large windows and is constructed from wood and surrounded by trees, making it almost feel as if you’re in a treehouse or a cabin when you’re inside. The slanted roof actually captures rain water that is then used to flush the toilets inside the building. Book treehouse? I’m in!
7. The Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China
The curved seating and the wavy, floor-to-ceiling shelves—not to mention the huge sphere auditorium in the middle of the room—draws the eye. The library has the capacity for over one million books, but only houses 200,000. In fact, the majority of the “books” in the main room are actually just printed images on aluminum plates to create an illusion of more books.
Opened in 2017, this is a newer library with a much more modern design. The beautiful library has the nickname “The Eye of Binhai” because of the design inside and because the sphere in the middle can be seen from the park outside through an eye-shaped opening.
8. Vasconcelos Library, Mexico City, Mexico
The open shelves of this hive-like design somewhat stress out my organization sensibilities, but what is more beautiful than books in all their glory? The transparent walls reveal stacks of books, and the library is set in the middle of a botanical garden. It has the capacity to hold 2 million items but currently is home to over 600,000 items (including books, videos, and multimedia).
9. National Library of Finland, Helsinki
With a central rotunda, columns, wooden floors, ceiling murals, and marble halls, this is a beautiful library with more than 3 million books and periodicals. What makes it even closer to my heart is that they recently added what is called a kirjaluola (which translates to “book cave”) underground to store more books. I love seeing real book caves!
10. Joanina Library, Coimbra, Portugal
This beautiful library has three big rooms with painted ceilings and gilded or painted bookshelves and houses about 250,000 volumes. Aside from its splendor, this building is fascinating because it is patrolled by bats! Each night, the caretakers cover the furniture to protect it from bat guano, and the bats roam free, eating the bugs that would otherwise damage the books and furniture. What a unique way to protect books!
11. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library
This main branch of the New York Public Library has a marble façade and lion statues guarding the front. It also appears in multiple movies, and is a very well-known library, making it a must-see for book lovers!
What beautiful libraries around the world do you want to see? Let me know in the comments!