With music playing on every floor, an art gallery, a firm âno censorshipâ policy on their computers with Internet access, and a cafe serving coffee and sandwiches, this is not the library I grew up getting shushed at. Photo: Pedro Szekely
Strahov Theological Hall
(Prague, Czech Republic) The ornately decorated library in the Strahov Monastery contains 18,000 religious texts, including many editions of the Bible in numerous languages. Photo: Rafael Ferreira
(Medellin, Colombia) Set on a hilltop in Santo Domingo -- an area that was heavily affected by violence and drug trafficking in the 1980s and 1990s -- Biblioteca EspaÃ±a was built as part of an initiative to enhance urban development and to provide more opportunity to the cityâs poorest residents. Photo: danjeffayelles
(New Haven, CT) A gift from the Beinecke family to Yale University in 1963, this windowless building has walls made of translucent marble, specifically designed to preserve the rare books and manuscripts inside, including one of the 48 remaining Gutenberg Bibles. Photo: KAALpurush
Belarus National Library
The newly designed National Library of Belarus houses over 8 million items and has the only public observation deck in Minsk. Photo: Giancarlo Rosso
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
The University of Toronto's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has the largest collection of rare books and manuscripts available to the public in Canada, including an extensive collection of Lewis Carroll first editions, biographical material, and photography. Photo: Andrew Louis
Seattle Public Library
The Seattle Central Library was built in 2004 to be an inviting and functional public space. Its "Book Spiral" displays the library's entire non-fiction collection in one continuously winding run, enabling library-goers to peruse the 4-level section without being interrupted by stairs. Photo: Stephen J. Friedman, MD
The Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen was founded in 1648, and now holds nearly all known Danish works ever published. A new addition known as the Black Diamond was built in 1999, which houses a concert hall, exhibition spaces, two museums, and a roof terrace in addition to the library and reading rooms. Photo: G. JÃ¶rgenshaus
TU Delft Library
(Delft, Netherlands) The Delft University of Technology library was designed by architectural firm Mecanoo to be a "triangle of grass and glass." The building is topped off by a large metal cone, which houses four reading rooms accessible by spiral staircase. Photo: Stephanie Braconnier
(Halmstad, Sweden) The design of the Halmstad Library was inspired by the surrounding trees and features wall-to-wall windows with views of parkland visible from virtually anywhere in the building. Photo: ET Photo
The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library System is a nine-story glass building surrounded by a glass-covered walkway and Coliseum-esque colonnade complete with social space, reading areas, and study rooms. Photo: Darren Stone
Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura
(Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) Visit the Real Gabinete PortuguÃªs de Leitura to see how to fit over 350,000 volumes in just one room. The interior of the room is four stories tall to allow for maximum shelf space, and also houses a small collection of sculptures, paintings, and coins. Photo: Os RÃºpias
(Admont, Austria) The Admont Library's over 200,000 books and manuscripts makes it the largest monastery library in the world. Most of its works are theological -- including a giant 11th-century Bible -- but it also contains many important scientific and historical volumes. Photo: Christine McIntosh
One of the largest libraries in the world, the British Library in London holds over 150 million items from countries all over the world -- 100 million of which are also available digitally. Notable works include the Magna Carta, Captain Cook's journal, and the only surviving medieval manuscript of Beowulf. Photo: Steve Cadman
Travelers Stoked on this Gallery
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Sarah Park is currently spending her quarter-life crisis in the beautiful Eastern Sierra. She spends her days snowboarding, hiking and not at all slipping into a soul-devouring existential dilemma. Don't worry, she's kidding... kinda.