No matter what library you visit — whether it’s a small town library that hasn’t seen a renovation since the 1970s, or a national library that houses the documents of an entire country’s history, they all share a mission to be a space of community learning. The world’s most beautiful libraries can capture this mission in architecture and design.
Here are 11 stunning libraries that inspire visitors as soon as they step in.
The George Peabody Library | Baltimore, Maryland
The George Peabody Library is not only famous for its black and white marble floor or its five tiers of cast-iron balconies, but also for its cameo in Sleepless in Seattle — Meg Ryan meets her brother at the library, where he works.
Royal Portuguese Reading Room | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The largest collection of Portuguese writings outside of Portugal itself, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room contains over 350,000 titles — with over 6,000 news ones added every year.
John Rylands Library | Manchester, England
The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester is home to an extensive collection on the history of Christianity; one of its most famous artifacts is the St. John Fragment, a tiny scrap of papyrus from the Gospel of John, regarded as the oldest piece of New Testament writing ever discovered.
Stuttgart City Library | Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart City Library — an intensely modern building — shimmers and glows in the sunlight, but when the sun goes down this pristine white cube is illuminated by neon blue lights, making it quite possibly the only library in the world that could pass as a nightclub.