There is something almost magical about a well-kept, expansive and beautiful library. Whether historic or modern, the sheer weight of the millions of words hidden on the pages of the enormous collections of literature can turn a building in to one of the most inspiring environments one can visit. Many of the most spellbinding and awe-inspiring libraries across the globe can be found on the campuses of some of the world’s most prestigious universities, ready and waiting to aid the prosperous students in their learning pursuits.
1. Philological Library at the Free University (Berlin, Germany)
Completed in 2005, the Philological Library took eight years to complete and brought together ten separate humanities departments. The library boasts room for 650 readers and a staggering collection of 700,000 literary volumes. As part of Germany’s largest university, the library has four floors and its unique architectural structure has resulted in giving it the nickname ‘the Berlin Brain’.
2. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)
Named on honour of a Yorkshire merchant, the Thomas Fisher rare book library was opened in 1973 and is Canada’s largest receptacle of manuscripts and books. The library also contains valuable papers belonging to famous Canadian literary figures including Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood, and lives up to its ‘rare book’ status with medieval manuscripts and collections of books presented to the University by Queen Victoria.
3. Central Library at National Autonomous University of Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
An imposing work of architecture to behold, the outer walls of the Central Library at National Autonomous University of Mexico are adorned with striking murals by native artist and architect Jua O’Gorman. Opened in 1956, the building has gained World Heritage status and houses in excess of 400,000 literary texts. It is the largest library in Latin America and the oldest on the entire continent.
4. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University (New Haven, United States)
A work of absolute architectural genius, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University is the ultimate location for the preserving of literary texts. The walls of the building are made of thin marble, allowing enough sunlight to permeate that will not damage the paper in any way. Opened in 1963, the libraries central glass casing system is equipped fire supressing gas that can be released to protect the books should there ever be a problem.
5. The Geisel Library at the University of California (San Diego, United States)
An imposing, rigid space-age structure, the Geisel Library was opened in 1970 and its unique and strange design features have been the cause of much speculation over the years. The library’s elevators go straight from floors one and two to floors four and right, leading to the birth of several urban legends about the contents of the mystery floors in between. Nevertheless, a stellar literary institution that most notably houses the Dr. Seuss Collection.
6. Duke Humfrey’s Library in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Dating back over a staggering 400 years to 1602, Duke Humfrey’s Library houses approximately 1.1 million texts including a surviving book belonging to Duke Humfrey himself. Many of the library’s original books were destroyed during the Reformation, but three founding texts still remain within the collection. The library may look familiar, as it was used as a setting in several of the eight Harry Potter films.
7. Wren Library at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Designed by and named after the famous British architect Christopher Wren, this library was revolutionary for the fact that it was the very first to large windows to enhance the reader’s experience. Boasting a smaller but equally as impressive collection 25,000 books, some dating back to the 11th century, the library possesses an array of rare works including original manuscripts of A. A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh.
8. George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, United States)
Opened in 1878 and boasting a 300,000 strong collection of literature mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries, the George Peabody Library gives a spectacular and grand studying experience with its 61 feet high sky lighted ceiling and five floors of ornately designed balconies. A setting certain to inspire the students of Johns Hopkins University.
9. Joe & Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago (Chicago, United States)
A stunning work of modern architecture, the Joe & Rika Mansueto Library houses 3.5 millions books, all of which are stored underground. Students request a text at the main desk and it is sent in minutes by a state of the art retrieval system. The library’s huge glass dome roof is temperature controlled so work can be comfortably completed whilst enjoying the Chicago scenery outside.
10. Library at Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona, Spain)
The picturesque building that is now the Pompeu Fabra Library was once, among other things, a fire station, parking garage and even a mental institution. You can feel the weight of history mixed in with the 500,000 plus book collection, and with 1400 allocated spaces for studying students; the sheer size of the library is equally as big as its historic reputation.
Overall, an eclectic and varied list of some of the world’s finest libraries, from state of the art institutions to heritage buildings dating all the way back to the 15th century. All vastly individual but with the shared goal of preserving and spreading the academic words of past scholars to each new generation of eager learners.