My Top 10 beautiful public libraries across the world

The library has become an important part of my childhood. It is where I spent a great deal of my ‘growing up’ years and it became my number 1 hang out spot as a young adult. The idea of this post came from my trip to the library from a few a week ago. I am sure there are more beautiful libraries but I am only writing about the ones that kinda caught my eye 🙂

I particularly like the old architecture type of libraries but the new modern style libraries are refreshing and beautiful as well. I then picked five old style libraries and five modern style libraries that I found to be breath-taking.


Five old architectural style libraries:

Stockholm Public Library:

A library building in Stockholm, Sweden that was established in 1928. The library officially opened on 31 March 1928 but was still missing its west wing due to financial constraints but the wing was only added in 1932.

Stockholm Public Library

Stockholm Public Library

Royal Portuguese Reading Room:

A library building in Rio de Janero, known as The Real GabinetePortuguês de Leitura  (English: Royal Portuguese Reading Room) was constructed between 1880 and 1887. It also has the largest and most valuable literary of Portuguese outside of Portugal. The style of the building has the neomanuelino style that evokes the exuberant Gothic-Renaissance as well as the interior.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Bristol Central Library:

A library in Bristol, England that was built by architect, Chris Holden and its design was influential in the development of Edwardian Freestyle Architecture. The north front of the building has a Tudor Revival and Modern Movement styles with an adjoining Abbey Gatehouse. The interior is largely classical.

Bristol Central Library, Bristol, UK

Bristol Central Library, Bristol, UK

Angelica Library:

A library building situated in Rome, Italy and was established in 1604 by Angelo Rocca and belonged to the Augustinian monastery. In 1609, it was the second library in Italy opened for public service.

Angelica Library, Rome, Italy

Angelica Library, Rome, Italy

National Library of France:

A library building situated in Paris, France and was established in 1792. It has a collection of 30 million items of which 14 million are books and publications and has approximately 2700 staff members.

National Library, Site Richelieu, Paris, France

National Library, Site Richelieu, Paris, France

Five modern style libraries:

Amsterdam Public Library (Central Library):

A library in Amsterdam, Netherlands and was established in 1919. It is the largest public library in Europe. This building has 10 floors with 1200 seats of which 600 with internet connected computers. The library also has an auditorium, an exhibition room, the Library Museum, the Gerard Reve museum and 2000 parking space for bicycles. On the seventh floor, there is a self-service restaurant.

Amsterdam Public Library

Amsterdam Public Library

National library of Belarus:

A library situated in Minsk, Belarus and was founded in 1922 but the new building was opened on 16 June 2006. The building has 22 floors; it can seat about 2000 readers and has a 500-seat conference hall. It is also the main  information and cultural centre of the country.

National Library, Belarus

National Library, Belarus

Sendai Mediatheque:

A library situated in Sendai, Japan and was constructed in 1997, completed in 2000 and opened up in 2001. It is a mixed-program public facility which combines library and art gallery functions. The Mediatheque’s seven levels of facilities offer a range of services including a conventional book-lending library an extensive collection of film and audio recordings with stations for viewing and editing, a theatre, to a cafe and bookstore, all housed in a nearly cubic glass enclosure.

Sendai Mediatheque

Sendai Mediatheque, Japan

Stuttgart City Library:

Situated in Stuttgart, Germany. This cavernous white wonder is unobtrusive in design, where the books and visitors provide the color to an otherwise neutral environment.  The visual center of the Stuttgart City Library is its grand atrium, a five-story open chamber. The interior is bright without direct lighting; it is warm without paint color and intimate yet open.

Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

The Royal Danish Library:

It is known as the Black Diamond library and situated in Slotsholmen, Denmark.  Construction started in 1995 and as completed in 1999. It is a modern waterfront extension to the Royal Danish Library’s old building. Apart from its function as a library, the building houses a number of other public facilities and activities. The facilities include a 600-seat auditorium, the Queen’s Hall, used for concerts. There are also exhibition spaces, a bookshop, a restaurant, a café and a roof terrace. There are two museums, National museum of Photography and a small museum dedicated to cartoon art.


The Royal Danish Library (Black Diamond), Slotsholmen, Denmark

Breath-taking isn’t it??? When the blog was still new, I wrote a post about five bookstores that are very beautiful and inspiring. If you are interested in that post, please go have a read Five Reasons to fall inlove with bookstores


46 thoughts on “My Top 10 beautiful public libraries across the world

    • Are you referring to the Winston Churchill Museum formerly known as the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library? If so, it is absolutely beautiful! I should have put it in my post!
      A year ago there was talk that the New National Churchill Library and Center will be established between 2013 and 2015 at the George Washington University.
      It is always a pleasure sharing 🙂

    • I always wanted to do a trip to Europe! Visiting one of those libraries would be awesome!! But I would not want to leave any of those libraries once i am in the and it would could become a problem LOL

      • We’ll go on a summer trip to Europe – for three months!! You will have more trouble getting me out of there than dragging yourself out 🙂

  1. Shite. I think I should start saving up so I can visit all those beautiful public libraries. I get giddy like a kid in a chocolate factory at the prospect of breathing the same air those books are shelved. I love this post. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers! =)

    • Thank you for the lovely comment 🙂 Yes I do understand what you mean about the “I get giddy like a kid in a chocolate factory at the prospect of breathing the same air those books are shelved” part. My heart beats faster every time I enter a library and just imagine if I could set foot in anyone of the above.

  2. These look so fantastic. Unfortunately in Australia, the libraries are growing, but the number of books on the shelves is shrinking. Instead of books, there are computer pods, meeting areas, play areas, discussion areas, and all sorts of other non-book or non-learning things.

    • So true hey. I see it slowly happening in some of our “newer” libraries here in Cape Town. I love the “clasiccal” type of libraries where there is just rooms and rows full of books 🙂

    • Me too, it’s great and all with all the technology but I am an “old-school” girl and I would hate to see libraries fading out or libraries becoming more electronic. Just imagine borrowing ebooks instead of actual books then it would defeat the purpose of an actual library. The minute I get to travel, I would sure put it on my list to visit one of those libraries.

    • Hey Kristen me too! The City Hall in Cape Town used to be our Central Library. It is the a large Edwardian building. This also happens to be the place where Nelson Mandela made his first public speech, 11 hours after being release from prison. It had a similar look and feel to the Angelica Library in Rome. But then they moved the library to another building 😦

    • Wow that is really awesome. I had a look at how they created the design. It is really breath-taking to see how the “wall of knowledge” was created. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I have looked at this post probably 100 times #truestory.
    As I have said above, I am in T.R.O.U.B.L.E! Visiting beautiful libraries were always on my list of reasons to travel, but I think we bumping that up. If I haven’t said so already, this is a beautiful post my friend 🙂

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