11 Libraries So Beautiful, We'd Like to Live in Them

And read every single book.

May  1, 2019

It’s no secret that I’m a die-hard book lover—for me, there’s nothing more relaxing than hanging out among shelves of ‘em at a library. There’s something about all those crisp spines containing the ideas of amazing authors that inspires my best thinking.

And while my local library is great, I can’t help but marvel at some of the gorgeous libraries that pop up on my Instagram feed. They’re located all around the world, and I’d happily spend a day (or 50) exploring each one.

Here are 11 that have me itching to book a trip:

The UNAM Central Library in Mexico

The National Autonomous University of Mexico is a world-renowned research university. The exterior of its biblioteca central (central library) is painted with a stunning mural called the Historical Representation of Culture, created by Juan O'Gorman. It’s an iconic building in Mexico, and the university campus itself is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The George Peabody Library in Baltimore, M.D.

The students of Johns Hopkins University are lucky enough to have the beautiful George Peabody Library on their campus. It was built in the late 1800s, and today, it’s a popular wedding venue, thanks to its Greek-inspired interior and soaring atrium. Who wouldn’t love to get lost among all those columns?

The Stuttgart City Library in Germany

Those who prefer more modern architecture will love the Stuttgart City Library. It’s newer than many of the other libraries I fantasize about visiting (it opened in 2011), but it’s every bit as spectacular. With its all-white color scheme and sleek, modern lines, it evokes one of those optical illusions where the staircases magically switch directions.

The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Brazil

The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Rio de Janeiro hosts the biggest collection of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal. Its unique reading room sports beautiful wooden floor-to-ceiling bookcases under a huge chandelier and skylight.

The Bodleian Library in England

The U.K.'s Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in Europe, and its picturesque architecture has appeared in a number of popular movies (including the first two Harry Potter films). The library is part of Oxford University, and its castle-like exterior looks majestic, even on rainy days.

The Vancouver Central Library in Canada

This Colosseum-inspired building is the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, and yes, that’s a rooftop garden. Not only does this library house over 1 million volumes, but the surrounding “Library Square” is also home to lots of stores and restaurants.

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

This breathtaking library is located in the U.S. capital, near the White House, Washington Monument, and Smithsonian Museum. While you’re welcome to visit, only high-ranking government officials can actually check out books—so make sure to hit up your local library for reading material before your trip.

The Admont Abbey Library in Austria

The Admont Abbey Library, which is renowned for its ornate Baroque architecture and art, is the world’s biggest monastery library. It's located on the edge of a river with mountains off in the distance, making it a scenic place to spend the day.

The Tianjin Binhai Library in China

The white, curvy walls of the Tianjin Binhai Library are mesmerizing. The modern library was built in 2017 and has five stories and two rooftop patios to explore. Its winding walls can hold up to 1.2 million books, but I have to wonder how you’d ever get them all down.

The Geisel Library in San Diego, C.A.

How awesome is the geometric design of this library? The Geisel Library is part of the University of California San Diego, and it’s actually named after Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. The building is home to more than 7 million volumes, and it’s been featured in a number of TV shows and movies over the years.

The Tama Art University Library in Japan

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Beautiful columns and little balls 😉

A post shared by Zhou Joel Wong (@zhoujoel) on

If you love minimalism, you’ll swoon over the Tama Art University Library in Tokyo. This school is one of the top art colleges in the country, and its library is meant to be a source of inspiration for students. The concrete arches and glass walls are an architectural wonder, but don’t worry, there are still books to read.

Which library would you most like to wander through? Let us know in the comments!

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Kathryn B. June 25, 2019
The George Peabody library is actually on the campus of the Peabody Institute of Music (of the Johns Hopkins University) which is a couple of miles away from the Homewood campus of JHU.
Julia June 24, 2019
The Library on the Trinity Campus in Dublin, Ireland, is beautiful.
Oana G. May 22, 2019
Carturesti Carusel, from Bucharest, Romania.
Aly May 9, 2019
"Biblioteca Joanina" at the University of Coimbra, and "Library Lello" -Porto (both in Portugal) are really nice also.
Petra Z. May 2, 2019
You forgot about the National Bibliothek in Vienna Austria which to my view is one of he most beautiful libraries in the world.
Wendy May 1, 2019
Thanks for featuring the main branch of Vancouver Public Library in my hometown! It is located right in the downtown city centre, one block away from the hockey arena.
Gennifer M. May 22, 2019
I'm also a local, though I don't live downtown. This is my favorite library, because of the rooftop garden, the vast selection of books and the children's library on the lower level.
Stottey May 1, 2019
The building in the picture of the Bodleian Library is called the Radcliffe Camera. It's part of the Bodleian Library, which is a few different buildings. The scene from the first Harry Potter where Harry goes to the restricted section was filmed in the Duke Humfrey's Library - which is so beautiful!

Libraries in China are another interesting subject. One of the first things I did when I moved to China was try and find a library to go to - but there weren't really any public libraries in Beijing. There was one huge one but it's not a library like you or I would think of it. Security was so tight, it was more like going into a book prison.

After looking into the library in Tianjin it seems that although initially there weren't any books in it, it's now getting stocked. The Chinese reviews (on 大众点评) are pretty positive, although usually talk about it as an architectural feat rather than a library. The English-language reviews on Trip Advisor are much fewer in number and are more mixed - with most people saying it's not really a library.

I really hope it will become a library in the true sense of the word. They're such wonderful places.