10 jaw-dropping libraries you need to check out

  • Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany

    The word library typically conjures up images of dusty tombs and dark corners, but the Stuttgart City Library in Germany turns that image upside down with its all-white interior and clean lines – the books themselves providing the only pop of color. It may not fit in with the classic libraries of the world, but that's part of why we love it.

    Photo courtesy of suchosch / flickr

  • Trinity College Library in Dublin

    Founded in 1592, the Trinity College Library in Dublin is the oldest library in Ireland, and one of the most impressive in the world. The oft-photographed Long Room contains some 200,000 volumes, making it the largest single-chamber library in the world and a must-visit destination for any bibliophile traveling in Ireland.

    Photo courtesy of E+ / clu

  • Delft University of Technology Library in Delft, Netherlands

    The Delft University of Technology Library in the Netherlands is one of the most recognizable in the world thanks to the giant steel cone jutting from its roof. The main chamber of the library sits beneath the ground, and its roof is a grassy hill where students often meet to study and relax. The four-story wall of books on the inside make it eye-popping inside and out.

    Photo courtesy of Patti Manolis / flickr

  • New York Public Library in New York

    Completed in 1911, the New York Public Library has earned the designation of National Historical Landmark, and you'll see why once you enter. The building's fresco ceilings, chandeliers, classic reading tables and miles upon miles of wooden shelves lend it a sense of history and grandeur – things hard to come by in our technology-driven world.

    Photo courtesy of Andrew E. Larsen / flickr

  • Austrian National Library in Vienna

    The Austrian National Library in Vienna – the largest library in the country – houses a collection of more than 12 million items. This institution has been around since 1723, and the frescoes, statuary and baroque architectural elements really accentuate the atmosphere.

    Photo courtesy of Hernán Piñera / flickr

  • Library of Parliament in Ottawa

    Canada's Library of Parliament in Ottawa, completed in 1876, has become a Canadian icon and even appears on the 10 dollar note. The main chamber is lined by ornate wooden bookshelves, and natural light floods in from the windows lining the base of the spectacular domed ceiling.

    Photo courtesy of E+ / Steven_Kriemadis

  • Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination in Ridgefield, Conn.

    Even the name of the Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination sounds appealingly mysterious, and the reality doesn't disappoint. The private collection of Jay Walker, the founder of, celebrates the history of human creativity in a whimsical space filled with maps, manuscripts, ancient artifacts and plenty of books. If you ever get an invite to this library, you'll probably find it hard to leave.

    Photo courtesy of Aaron "tango" Tang / flickr

  • Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City

    The behemoth Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City contains over 500,000 books, displayed on glass shelves throughout the five-story structure. The end result is an interior reminiscent of the Cubism movement. It's so massive, it makes the gray whale skeleton hanging in the entranceway seem tiny.

    Photo courtesy of * CliNKer *

  • Hearst Castle Library in San Simeon, Calif.

    Many an avid reader would love to spend a few hours with a cup of tea and a good book inside this library at the beautiful Hearst Castle in Southern California. Once the private mansion of William Randolph Hearst, the estate is now open to the public, so be sure to stop by the library and Gothic-style reading room.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Bahn / flickr

  • Central Library in Vancouver, B.C.

    The design of the ultra-modern Central Library in Vancouver got its inspiration from the ruins of the ancient Roman Colosseum. The finished structure covers an entire city block and houses 1.3 million reference materials, as well as a restaurant, shop and rooftop garden, perfect for an afternoon read.

    Photo courtesy of Cord Rodefeld