20 of the world’s most beautiful libraries

Up for a visit?
via Oddee.

What does your dream library look like? Circular nooks or long galleries? Glass-fronted bookcases or open ones? Lush carpeting or hard-wood floors? Sliding ladders and secret passageways? Beds built into the bookcases so you don’t even have to get up to reach your favorites?

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  1. kakaner’s avatar

    Well, I certainly already know what my dream library looks like… I’ve even already designed the mechanics in my head. I just need to… be able to afford it some day…

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  2. Andygrrrl’s avatar

    There’s a gorgeous art nouveau Carnegie library down the block from me…but it’s closed for refurbishment. The central library here is Very Bright! and Modern! and kind of aggressively cheerful. It’s five stories high, with escalators and two walls of glass that give you vertigo. It’s very comfortable and easy to navigate, but they’ve totally done that thing of spending money on overly hip furniture and reducing the collection. ::facepalm:: I keep wondering when the public library system will realize people don’t come to libraries because of the cool chairs…

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  3. Emera’s avatar

    kakaner – Care to divulge any juicy details? My interest is piqued.

    Andygrrrl – Mmmm, art nouveau library… sounds beautiful.

    I know exactly what you mean by Bright and Modern – the public library where I am right now is exactly the same, down to the multi-storiedness and glass walls and highly designed seating arrangements. There’s even a (huge) tropical fishtank on the children’s level, which boggles the mind. Also, they charge for a membership card – only $1, but it still rankled me. Public library, hello!

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  4. Andygrrrl’s avatar

    I know! It’s called “public” for a reason! Jeez! I’ll never forget being completely boggled in France when I had to pay *8 euros* to joing their craptacular library—-seriously, WORST. LIBRARY. EVER. It was two rooms in a larger municipal building, and it pretty much consisted of cheap paperback crime novels and an old school wooden-drawer-card-catalog system. My Library Angst was deep and profound.

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  5. Emera’s avatar

    Andygrrrl – Daylight robbery whaaaat.

    To add to the France griping, I hate how they publish their classic reprints with white paperback covers and a tiny blurb of text in back. I looked in at least 7 different bookstores, both new and used, and could not find a single edition of The Count of Monte Cristo that was not paperback and unattractive.

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  6. Vega’s avatar

    I’ve always envisioned the perfect library to be this enormous atrium several (tens of?) stories high, with rows of shelving from floor to ceiling. The only way to get to the books is by floating platforms, or rail-cars that ride on rails embedded in the shelving. One wall of this atrium is completely window, that looks out onto interesting scenery — or a screen where the desired scenery is animated (depending on the mood of the patrons of course). Perhaps there will be a running balcony where one can sit to read by the window, or patrons will just park their hover-platforms wherever they want. Hover-platforms that have comfy chairs on them would be perfect!
    Yup – futuristic megastructure pushes all the right buttons. ;)

    Those libraries in that article are amazing — just a bit sad that the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne didn’t make it… it’s as beautiful as the featured libraries, albeit not as majestic.

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  7. Emera’s avatar

    Can I get a guest card to your perfect library, Vega? :) Mmm, I can see it so clearly in my head – I’m imagining a little silent animated film taking place in it, haha.

    I just found a photo of what looks like an octagonal reading room in the State Library of Victoria – beautiful!

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  8. kakaner’s avatar

    Vega–

    holy. shit. crap. fuck. WHAT!?!?!?!?!!!!

    okay. let me describe for you my dream library (which has been my dream one for a long time)

    an atrium stories high, rows of shelving floor to ceiling. The only mechanism to get around is a floating platform– however, I was a little more practical in my design. There will only be 2-4 platforms and it works through a simple series of tracks. platforms are connected on both sides to two poles that extend from floor to ceiling. These poles are inserted into two tracks– one large circular one along the bottom and one along the top. Therefore, you can get to ANY point on the grid by going up and down or left and right. Of course, passing another person would be kind of troublesome, but you coudl simply switch platforms.

    I may or may not have the mechanics of it and the bearings and the “circuitry” (actually it’ll be wirelessly controlled) worked out in my head.

    i may or may not have already sketched this out.

    i also may or may not have plans for building a prototype.

    now, for me, the reading nooks will be in the center of the atrium… but… i dont know. im still deicding for or against it. I kind of dont want anythin gin the center because I want this amazing breathtaking view from all points in the library. but the middle is this huge kinda cathouse-thing0shaped structure… that
    s like a random fun treehouse. you can climb in and there are all sorts of random rooms and crannies and carpeted floors and ramps and stairs and it’s like four stories high and FOOD stoerd in fridges and…..

    i think that one warrants a picture for explanation. okay I’m done.

    Sorry. i was just overcome by how similar your description was =X

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