I remember the first time I went to a library. The towering shelves filled with books, the silence, the serenading peace as I moved from one row to the other, touching the spine of all the hardcover books. It was a fantasy land. Understand that the library was its own space, with its own rules and regulations all of which made the place even more special. The way books were taken care of, catalogued, recorded, and how the entire process was efficient and extremely smooth really added to the charisma of the location. This was a decade back.

Today, libraries have lost their charm a notch, due to cafes and kindle book readers. And yet, the one place which still elicits a sigh of elation, within me at least, is a library. Being among books, gobbling them up, grasping everything Joyce or Kafka had to say is unbelievably more convenient than going to a gaming parlor and paying 100 bucks for a game you don’t care much about.

Following is a list of 10 libraries you would consider to be good fortune to visit it. Couldn’t include the Library of Alexandria for the Ottomans destroyed it, but there is one that is a good substitute to it.

The National Library of Brazil

Credit: Yuken Chen’s Flickr streams.

One of the oldest libraries in South America, the National Library of Brazil is another famous monument in Rio. This is the biggest library in Latin America, and the 7th largest in the world. Another interesting feature about this library is that since 1907, due to it being a copyright library, every single author has to give one copy to the library, thus giving it almost 9 million books to treasure.

Spanish Park Library, Colombia

Credit: Daniel Echeverri’s Flickr streams.

Giancarlo Mazzanti, the architect of this unique building is of the opinion that the structure placed in the town of Saint Domingo is so ahead of its time, because he wants the fellow citizens to imagine better things in the future. He installed giant windows, and columns, only because he wanted the citizens to believe that those windows would bring in progress.

To put it in context, the structure is modernist in its approach, with giant windows. It is constructed on top of a hill. This also gives away amazing scenic beauty.

Central Library of Vancouver, Canada

Credit: Evan Leeson’s Flickr streams

The unique feature of this library is that while other libraries are built on historical monuments, this is built on the design of historical ruins. This huge library, which is almost one entire city block is built like the Roman Coliseum. It not only houses a library, but also has a café, a restaurant, and a huge parking space.

Library of Congress, USA

Credit: NCinDC’s Flickr streams

The largest library in the world, the Library of Congress is in almost every list of libraries to visit. And, being the biggest library in the world due to its shelf space, it is ascertained that it won’t just be one building holding the honor. There are a number of buildings, of which Thomas Jefferson building is the oldest, and quite possibly the most beautiful.

The building was created in 1897, by architects who modeled it on classical libraries of Europe. It also features murals done by artists.

Admont Abbey Library

Credit: Library at Admont Abbey | © Jorge Ryan/Wikicommons

This library is an epitome of what a monastic library should look like. It is located in the Admont Abbey, and its entire design is a genius in baroque. The high-rise ceiling show frescoes that depict the rise of humanity to embrace divine knowledge, leading up to the Enlightenment era. The building has huge windows that would allow one to feel the healing rays of the sun. It is quite clearly one of the bigger libraries in the world.

Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin

Long Room

Credit: Long Room © Kate

The main point about this entire library is the ‘Long Room’. This room is said to be as big as a nave in a big, famous church. The corridor is filled with the busts of famous people, including Aristotle and Edmund Burke. Sometime in the last few years, they bought a collection of Samuel Beckett’s letters.

Library of Alexandrina

Credit: Wikipedia user CarstenW.

The ancient library which burnt in a fire actually led to a series of events that changed world history forever. Cut to modern times, the antique heritage has been rebuilt to display its past glory. But the issue is, despite the shelf space of 8 million books, it has only 1 million books. This is due to the expenditure on constructing the building. Half of the books that they have was donated by the National Library of France. The library also holds the record of having the most number of French written books in Africa, while 6th largest in the world.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery Library, Egypt

Credit: Gillian C. Boal of the University of California Berkley Library

This library was famous for once having the oldest Bible in history, in its entirety, which was then sold to Russia and finally the British library. Also interesting is that this library houses the Achtiname where one can read the words of Muhammad, who swore to bring the monastery, and the library under his protection. The monastery itself was built in 381 A.D., and the library built in the 6th century. So, as we can already guess from that, it has the second most number of codices available, after the Vatican.

David Sassoon Library, India

Credit: Carol Mitchell

This library was built in 1870, and is one of the few monuments protected by the Indian government. It features a garden at the back, built after a Mughal style, and in a compact, effortless way. While the library was initially thought to be just for the Sciences, funding ran short, and it was officially opened to every science.

Special Mentions:

Tianjin Binhai Library, China

The best place for people who love to equate books with technology. With its shelves acting as staircases and seats, this library can hold up to 1 million books, all the while looking like the Enterprise.

Stockholm Public Library, Sweden

One of those libraries where you would find old Norse texts, talking about epics and battles and kingdoms. But what makes this library special is the rotunda at the top, and the adjoining restaurants lined across the building.

El Escorial Library, Spain

This is not only a library, but also a museum. People have to purchase tickets, to simply look at the ornate display all over the walls, ceilings and columns.

The Beitou Branch of The Taipei Public Library, Taiwan

This library is eco-friendly, with lush greenery surrounding the building, and big windows letting the air in. You can either gaze out towards the horizon, or you can read your book.

Takeo City Library, Japan

Café, music, book store – the Takeo City Library in Japan is all set to give a wonderful experience to visitors and bibliophiles.

Stare Library of Queensland, Australia

Famous for hosting the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, that will take place on 5-8 September this year. The library was established in 1896, and preserves the collection of the state’s history and heritage.

Biblioteca Joanina, Portugal

This library is what you would call aesthetic. Tables made with rosewood, ebony, jacaranda, ceiling frescoes… this is a sight to behold. Also, the library has a collection of bats who preserve the books by eating the insects. Interesting.

The Schwarzman Building of New York Public Library

A blend of future with the present, the New York Public Library has the Schwarzmann Building which reopened after 2 years due to renovation. There is a separate space for researchers, and leisurely readers. And a sub branch has been built under the Bryant Park, where books are transported through a conveyor belt.

Well, do visit one library in your life. Doesn’t have to be a huge or famous one. Just a library around the corner of your neighborhood. Breathe in the smell of old books. You will love it.