11 of the most beautiful libraries in the world

Whether enshrining ancient masterpieces or offering digital access in our computerised world, libraries are cultural meeting places that are open to all. These 11 libraries are both informative and stunning to look at.

1. New York Public Library, New York, USA

Established
1911

Architect
Carrere and Hastings

Read between the lions
Two huge marble lions, known as Patience and Fortitude, stand guard outside the library, which has more than 50 million books and serves 18 million patrons a year.

Future relics
The imposing marble edifice is a city landmark. The building’s cornerstone, which weighs a hefty 7.5 tonnes, contains a relic box with newspapers, photos, official letters and other ephemera related to the library’s creation.

Click here
Embracing the digital age big time, the library is a living database with new items – prints, maps, photos and videos – added every day. Around 700,000 at the last count.

2. Taipei Public Library, Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan

Established
2006

Architect
Bio-Architecture Formosana

Down to earth
Taiwan’s first green library, and easily one of the top eco-friendly buildings in East Asia, this branch of the Taipei Public Library is tucked into Beitou Park’s lush environment. The magnificent structure has quickly become a tourist attraction.

Great outdoors
Enjoy the many al fresco reading areas. The wooded walkways have benches, as well as chairs and tables, with a stream and twittering birds for company.

Nature’s energy
Elements of the design recycle rainwater and use cross ventilation and solar panels. A section of the roof is covered by 20cm of soil to provide thermal insulation.

SEE ALSO: 7 cool bookstores around the world where you can do more than just read

3. The Black Diamond, Copenhagen, Denmark

Established
1999

Architect
Schmidt Hammer Lassen

Rock solid
The Black Diamond, a waterfront extension of Denmark’s 1906 Royal Library building, is clad in polished granite that reflects the sea and sky.

Heavens above
The interior is as impressive as the exterior, with a huge 200sq m ceiling fresco by one of Denmark’s most famous painters, Per Kirkeby.

Philosopher’s stone
Borrowing a book isn’t the only reason to visit The Black Diamond. Among its other amenities is a great waterside restaurant, Soren K, named after one of the country’s most famous philosophers, Kierkegaard.

4. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, England

Established
1602

Architect
Unknown

‘The Bod’
Named for its Elizabethan benefactor and Oxford old boy, Sir Thomas Bodley, this 400-year-old library, which boasts 12 million items including a Shakespeare First Folio, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and a handwritten compendium of Jane Austen’s early writings, is simply ‘The Bod’ to many local scholars .

Divine
It’s famous for its reading rooms and Divinity School, the vaulted ceiling of which is a masterpiece of English Gothic craftsmanship.

Magic
If the interiors look familiar, thank the Harry Potter movies. The Hogwarts Restricted Section is actually the Arts End of the medieval Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room at the Bodleian.