When I browse, be it shopping for clothes or scanning bookshelves, I go all in. I’m able to commit to flipping through every single piece of clothing on a rack and reading all the titles in a stack with focused attention. My penchant for not wanting to miss a thing along with the sense of accomplishment I get when I discover a coveted find both serve me well in this endeavor. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use this skill to my advantage in my goal of building a cozy home library. Couple my inclination of scouring every shelf at a store with my admiration for beautiful places, and the unique libraries I’ve compiled into this list are bound to increase my desire for quarantine to end tenfold. One day I’ll get to see these stunning bibliophile traps, but for now, exploring them through Google Arts and Culture will suffice.
Trinity College Library, Dublin
This is the kind of library that might house a decades-old treasure, and the world would never know. The most photogenic part has to be the Long Room, the 200-foot long hallway complete with barrel-vaulted ceilings, balconies overlooking the first floor and marble busts of the famous authors. If you want to culture yourself a little, check out the library’s most famous tome, the Book of Kells, an illustrated and intricate manuscript in Latin with four Gospels of the New Testament.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore
Also paying homage to classical architecture, this Johns Hopkins library features a neo-Greco cathedral atrium, marble floors and five stories housing over 300,000 volumes. Austere and stately with grandiose charm, it’s also one of the most famous wedding venues in the city. Sign me up for possible future nuptials!
Tianjin Binhai Library, China
I recognized this modern design marvel from book and interior design accounts on social media that have raved about this library since it opened three years ago. Its main feature is “The Eye,” a huge luminous sphere in the middle of an auditorium. Its spellbinding floor-to-ceiling shells have a style similar to the minimalist appeal of Ikea. Unfortunately, some of the books you see aren’t actually books, but rather aluminum plates with printed images. At least they’re pretty, right?
The Library of El Esociral, Spain
Even if I probably won’t be reaching for most of the books housed in these historical libraries — language barriers and complicated content will make sure of that — I feel like I’m able to absorb the knowledge just being in the presence of such a gorgeous collection. Wishful thinking, huh? The library is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century, with a ceiling of whimsical frescoes that will remind you of the most illustrious churches. If you want to feel like a royal while you skim some pages, this is the library for you.
Honorable mentions: Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria), New York Public Library (New York), Central Public Library (Seattle), Royal Portuguese Reading Room (Rio de Janeiro), Stockholm Public Library (Sweden), Stuggart City Library (Germany), Beitou Public Library (Taiwan)
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.