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15 super unique libraries around the world

I read, and I mean a lot; every single day. But do I read books? Well, that’s a completely different story. You see, we’ve gotten use dto reading everything on a digital screen: projects, presentations, books, school material, and so on. But what about the library? Does anyone remember it? In an effort to get you, and me, going to one, I’ve compiled this list of 15 super libraries around the world. Get reading!

1. Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

Designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi, the new Stuttgart City Library opened in 2011. It’s been derided as a two-color Rubik’s Cube, a block-shaped prison for books, and a sterile unfriendly environment.

2. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt

Nothing remains of the original Library of Alexandria and nobody knows for sure exactly when and how it was destroyed. But nearly 2,000 years later in 2002, the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened as an homage to the original.

3. Taipei Public Library, Beitou, Taiwan

Taipei Public Library, Beitou, Taiwan

The Beitou branch of the Taipei Public Library system was the first building in Taiwan to receive the highest EEWH rating possible, the diamond rating. This is the most eco-conscious building in the country; it’s been built with wood from sustainably managed forests, while the library also uses photovoltaic cells to generate power.

4. Centrale Bibliotheek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Centrale Bibliotheek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Centrale Bibliotheek, at 28,000 square meters, is the largest library in the Netherlands. A ground source heating system coupled with highly efficient boilers uses atmospheric air for cooling; this is the greenest building in Amsterdam.

5. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France

Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France

Paris’ Bibliotheque nationale de France consists of 4 open-book-shaped towers arranged around a dug-out mature forest courtyard. Constructed in 1996 to replace a previous library building, the 22-story structures make this library one of the largest in the world.

6. Trinity College Long Room, Dublin, Ireland

Trinity College Long Room, Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College, is also the location of the largest library in Ireland. The oldest and rarest of its collection is housed in the Long Room, the largest single-chamber library in the world with over 200,000 volumes preserved inside.

7. St. Catherine’s Monastery, South Sinai, Egypt

St. Catherine's Monastery, South Sinai, Egypt

The oldest continually operated library in the world, St. Catherine’s Monastery has been around since it was first built by the order of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, sometime around 564 AD. It currently holds over 3,000 religious and educational manuscripts and approximately 8,000 printed books, including first editions of Homer and Plato. I didn’t know that!

8. Picture Book Library, Iwaki City, Japan

Picture Book Library, Iwaki City, Japan

Built in 2005, the Picture Book Museum gave the preschoolers of Iwaki, Fukushima, a space to call their own. The Picture Book Library’s founder gave architect Tadao Ando free rein to create a space that would be inviting for children. His only order was to make sure the covers of the books were visible.

9. Royal Grammar School Chained Library, Guildford, England

Royal Grammar School Chained Library, Guildford, England

Established in the early 1500s, the Royal Grammar School contains one of few remaining examples of the practice of chaining books to shelves. This allowed important or particularly useful books to be placed in communal areas for public perusal rather than locked away, paving the way for the public library system.

10. Boston Public Library, Boston, USA

Boston Public Library, Boston, USA

Opened in 1848, the Boston Public Library is the second largest library in the United States, with over 24 million volumes. It was also the first public, free-to-all library, and the first to lend books out to patrons.

11. Public Library, Nassau, Bahamas

Public Library, Nassau, Bahamas

The Nassau Public Library has street-cred, as it once housed the criminal population of the city. Originally built in the late 1700s as a jail, the octagonal building was converted into a library around 1837 and now holds 28,000 volumes.

12. Stockholm Public Library, Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm Public Library, Stockholm, Sweden

The first library in Sweden to adopt an open shelf design, the Stockholm Public Library opened its doors in 1928, when architect Gunnar Asplund and librarian Fredrik Hjelmqvist decided that library patrons could fetch their own books. Their self-service model was reinvigorated recently, with a renewed push toward automation for check-outs and returns.

13. McAllen Public Library, McAllen, Texas, USA

McAllen Public Library, McAllen, Texas, USA

When the city of McAllen acquired an old retail property, they brought on Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. to convert the space into a massive new public library. The largest single-story public library in the United States, the new McAllen Public Library now includes a massive children’s area with one of the largest teen areas in the state, an art gallery and a 200-seat auditorium.

14. Reading Club 2000, Manila, Philippines

Reading Club 2000, Manila, Philippines

Reading Club 2000 began when Hernando Guanlao  sought out a way to honor the memory of his parents, who instilled in him the love for reading. He set old textbooks of his own outside his Manila home to see if others would be interested in borrowing them. 12 years later, Nanie’s library now contains somewhere around 2,500 books.

15. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA

Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA

The McAllen Public Library may be the largest single-story library in the nation, but the Library of Congress in Washington, DC is the largest library in the world with over 151.8 million items sitting on 838 miles of bookshelves. Maybe the massive collection is trying to compensate for its smallest book — a 1/25″ x 1/25″ copy of Old King Cole.

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