What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘library’? The information it gives, right? While there are people who take libraries as a place to get all the information required, be it for school projects, for personal research or any work assignments. But for many others, it’s a heaven for them to sit and spent hours among books. So, whatever is the reason for your visit to a library, see below which are the best libraries in the world.
10. The Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
Once considered to be the largest library in the world, the Library of Alexandria in its earlier glory was also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Originally built during the reign of Ptolemy II, the present form came into being in the year 2002 at the cost of $220 million. The present state of the library also has museums, art galleries, manuscript restoration lab, a conference center, planetarium and also libraries for blind, children and young adults. The library has a capacity of 8 million books.
9. New York Public Library, New York
Nearly 53 million items catering to 3.5 million people, the New York Public Library has some special stack of books like the first Gutenberg Bible that had gone to America. Not just books, the library is equally famous for its architectural beauty with huge chandeliers and windows, gold plated, painted ceiling adorning the Rose Main Reading Room. In fact, this place is quite recognizable for its multiple features in movies like ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’.
8. Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada
This library that sits in the Parliament Hill, at the back of Centre Block in Ottawa, Ontario, has undergone a lot of construction and renovation right after it was built in the year 1876. Presently, the library building is a Canadian icon, appearing on the Canadian ten-dollar bill and houses more than 600, 000 items, maintained by a huge number of staff of 300.
7. Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Abbey Library of Saint Gall stores some rare manuscripts dating back to 8th century and is one of the primeval monastery libraries in the world. A World Heritage Site, the library also offers access to rare manuscripts with dates before 1900 through online portal. Manuscript B of the Nibelungenlied can be found in this library. Some 400 manuscripts are preserved in the portal and about 160, 000 volumes of picture postcard are stored here.
6. National Library of St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy
Housed in a Renaissance building in the northern part of Italy, the National Library of St. Mark’s is the home to some rare classical texts. It all started with the collection when Cardinal Bessarion donated his collection of 750 codices and 250 manuscripts, but at present, it has a collection of more than 24, 000 works from the 16th century, millions of books, 2880 incunabula and 13,000 manuscripts. National Library is named after the patron saint of Venice, St. Mark.
5. Vatican Library, Vatican City, Rome
One of the oldest in the world, the Vatican Library in Rome is believed to be founded in 1475, but there are traces of its existence since the starting of Catholic Church. With more than 1.1 million books, 8, 500 incunabula and 75, 000 manuscripts, Vatican Library have received its collection either as gifts or as a part of inheritance. The earliest complete form of the manuscript of Bible is owned by the library.
4. Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S
Boston Public Library being the first to be funded by the public was established in 1848 and had grown to its present state of 22 million items! It’s equally appealing architecture is well known worldwide for its beautiful murals of the legend of Holy Grail. The main room of the library’s McKim building, known as Bates Hall has a spectacular coffered ceiling. The McKim houses some rare collections like early works of Shakespeare including a First Folio, a good collection of Daniel Defoe, medieval manuscripts and also libraries of great historical figures like William Lloyd Garrison, John Adams and Nathaniel Bowditch.
3. Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England
The Reading Room is located at the center of the Great Court of British Museum and has a ceiling that is made of papier-mache. It is said that the room had served many great figures of history like Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, George Orwell, H. G Wells and Lenin. Currently, the Reading Room also accommodates an information center and a temporary exhibition featuring the well-known Terracotta Army of China.
2. Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK
The library of University of Oxford established in 1602, the Bodleian Library boasts a collection of 11 million items including many imports of historical importance like a Gutenberg Bible, Magna Carta and First Folio of Shakespeare (from 1623). The Radcliffe camera is the most famous building among all and accommodates the Radcliffe Science Library.
1. Library of Congress, Washington D.C
Finally at the first place is the national library of USA, the Library of Congress is the biggest in the whole world when it comes to number of volumes and the amount of self space available. Although, this library is available to public, but it’s being a research center of Congress, only members of Congress are allowed to go through books. Library of Congress includes more than 32 million books, a draft of the Declaration of Independence, 61 million manuscripts, 1 million newspapers from the last three millennia, 6 million copies of sheet music, 5 million maps and 14 million prints and photos.