Monday, January 12, 2015

Destination Libraries

by Megan S.

The Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University in the US. The outer marble walls
appear to be glowing gold because the material is thin enough to let sunlight through.
 Photo via Lauren Manning
We're celebrating the most hallowed of institutions and the amazing people that staff them this week on S4.  Yes, today is the beginning of our five day ode to libraries and librarians, both fictional and real all around the world and I'm kicking off the event with library porn the most stunning places to check out a book all around the globe.

Join me as I review my favorite destination libraries, won't you?

Real Gabinete Portuguès de Leitura - Brazil

Gilded accents and a striking teal color on the walls? I like your style, Brazil. The 19th Century building holds the largest Portuguese literature collection outside of Portugal and is a must tour when you're in the South American country.

Klementinium Library - Czech Republic
via Chris Bartle
Oh! Oh my! The daring photographer admits that photographs weren't allowed in the Czech Republic's Clementium Library, but he snapped it on the sly.  And just look at that centuries-old magnificence he was rewarded with.

Hmmm. Do you think I'd get thrown out if I refrained from taking pictures and instead ran around like a mad woman, spinning the globes and yelling in my best soap opera voice, "As the world turns..."?

Bibliotheca Alexandrina - Egypt
via Ting Chen

via Dain Sandoval
The original Library of Alexandria burned to the ground two millennia ago. This incarnation is designed to be a modern day center of scholarly pursuit and the exterior walls are covered in scripts from 120 written languages.


Biblioteca Central - Mexico

Normally, I'm all about "it's what's inside is what counts" but the exterior of the Central library at National Autonomous University of Mexico is so striking.  Look at that artwork!

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Spain
via Derek
via Thomas Nemeskeri
Books? Natural light? Exposed Brick? Vaulted ceilings? What more could a girl ask for when pouring over her psych books?  The Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona is the perfect place to stop before heading out for tapas and a night on the town.

George Peabody Library - Baltimore, Maryland, USA
via Matthew Petroff
via Robert Burakiewicz
Baltimore and I have had a rocky relationship: I've spoken harshly of the East Coast town and it's punished me with ungodly levels of heat and humidity whenever I try to find a taxi to DC, but that's all in the past. If I had known it was home to a gem like the George Peabody library, I would have never have slandered it so. The library may be a part of Johns Hopkins University, but it's open to the public. How fab is that?

Liyuan Library - China
via eager
via eager
It may be hard to believe, but this library is just outside of the bustling capital of China, Bejing.  It's definitely my idea of an urban oasis.

Harold Washington Library - Chicago, Illinois, USA
via Patrick Emerson
via Spiro Bolos
Chicago is known for it's harsh winters, but you wouldn't believe it looking at the warm and airy winter garden on the ninth floor of the building.  I can just imagine spending hours up there, all snuggled up with a good book as the cold wind coming from the lakes rattles the doors. Who wants to spend time admiring a huge silver bean outside in the snow when you can be in here?

Biblioteca Malatestiana - Italy
via Hari Seldon
via Massimiliano Calamelli

Forget visiting Italian vineyards, I'd rather spend time in the oldest public library in Europe.  The books here are all chained in place, so instead of the books coming to you, you change seats to view the next text.

 Suzzallo Library - Seattle, Washington, USA
via Michael Matti
If only my university library had been as grand and Hogwarts-esque as the University of Washington's, I may have spent more than the minimum amount required perusing the stacks in undergrad.  First stop in Seattle, this library, next a tour of the underground!

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève - France
via victortsu
If I ever make it to the City of Light, I'm definitely spending an afternoon soaking in the atmosphere in Sainte-Geneviève's reading room and its ornamental iron arches and absinthe colored glass lamps.

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek - Austria
via Tina Monumentalia
Forget what Coco Chanel said about limiting your accessories.  The Austrian National Library looks fantastic with its statues and busts and marble and columns of various types and wood paneling and gilded scrollwork and... where was I?  Oh yes. Books always deserve a home as lavish as this one and Austria's many libraries do it up right.

The Library of Congress - Washington, D.C., USA
via Forsaken Fotos
Though you can tour the building, the Library of Congress is intended for the members of the US House of Representatives, the Senate, and their staff for research purposes. Checked books are intended strictly for OFFICIAL USE ONLY.  Of course, some staffers thumb their nose at The Man and order Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels for not-so-official reasons to be delivered to their desk from the library when working on the Hill.

So, uh, what's the statute of limitations on that sorta mischief anyway?  Asking for a friend.

Gladstone's Library - Wales

Though Gladstone's might not appear to be as grand a library as others on this list, trust me, you'll want to visit because you can sleep there. Yes, you read that right. YOU CAN SLEEP THERE. It's a residential library.  Let's go right now! The modest price includes breakfast.
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  1. Why are there no posts? These are great pics. One of my fantasies would be to travel and see all of the ones in James Campbell's The Library - and the ones here. Thanks for posting.


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