Do you love to travel? Love the experience of hopping on a plane, bus, train or car and heading off on adventure? Me too! While the trip of a lifetime doesn’t last forever – the memories we make and the stories we tell do.
When I travel I love to visit some bookish places. I travelled in 2015 to the UK with my mother, and one of the highlights for me was visiting the many museums and libraries in the UK. So many beautiful books!
Today on the blog I’ll be sharing some of my favourite libraries from around the world (ones I’ve visited – and a few on my bucket list!). Read on for libraries to add to your itinerary next holiday!
1. John Rylands Library – Manchester, England
I visited this library on a trip to the UK with my mum. We were amazed by the beauty and history within these walls. Built in the neo-gothic style it was constructed in 1889 by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband John. It became open to the public in 1900 and has remained in operation ever since.
If you love Harry Potter this library is a must visit! You almost expect to bump into Hermione with her head buried in research as you browse the shelves. There’s a reason this library has the reputation as being the ‘Hogwarts library’.
Even if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter (shocking really…) the architecture of this building is phenomenal, as are the libraries collections. The library is home to the special collection books from Manchester university – you can see a fragment of the Gospel of St John here. The fragment is believed to be the earliest piece found of any New Testament writings from the bible!
The John Rylands Library is open seven days a week to the public and is free to visit. It is still an operational research library so the second floor isn’t able to be visited… almost like the forbidden third floor corridor. *rapid Googling of flights to UK*
2. The State Library of Victoria – Melbourne, Australia
This library is special to me, because it’s from my hometown of Melbourne. I’m totally not bias at all for including this one on the list! First opened in 1854 this library was one of the first free public libraries in the world. Tourists from all over the world visiting Melbourne, this is a must-visit destination.
The library has a vast collection of new and old books as well as a collection of artworks. I particularly enjoy visiting the dome gallery displays (in the balcony levels of the ‘Reading room’). It’s here you can find Ned Kelly’s armour as well as a history of Australian literature and publishing.
If you’ve had enough of books (impossible surely!) be sure to make time to check out the extensive artwork collections the library holds. The library has an impressive collection of artworks relating to different time periods in Australian history.
The library is conveniently located in the heart of Melbourne CBD making it easy for you to reach via public transport. Hop off the train at Melbourne Central station and walk over Swanston St, or alternatively use the free tram zone and alight on Swanston or Lonsdale street.
Next time you’re in Melbourne, be sure to stop by and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of this library.
3. Klementinum National Library, Prague
Now we reach the libraries that are on my bucket list! Have you been to any of these libraries? Let me know in the comments below if they’re as fantastic in person as they look online!
The Klementinum in Prague is a series of historical buildings, one of which houses the National library of the Czech Republic. The library claims to be ‘The most beautiful library in the world’, which judging from the pictures I can see it certainly is up there!
First opened in 1722 as a part of the Jesuit university in Klementinum it houses a huge collection of foreign theological literature. The Baroque library interior has remained intact since the 18th century and is a beautiful testament to the academics of the day.
The Klementinum also houses a large collection of astronomical globes and instruments. Visitors can also take in the city from the astronomical tower. It sounds and looks amazing! This library does have an entrance fee to visit, but it looks well worth it to me.
4. Austrian National Library, Vienna
The Austrian National library is the largest in Austria. The pictures I’ve seen certainly do impress a certain amount of grandeur that’s for sure!
The library has existed at its current location since 1848, but the library itself began in the 16th century. The library has a special focus on preserving Austrian public memory and literature. On the first and second floor you can discover famous texts by authors such as Franz Kafka (well known for Metamorphosis) and Friedericke Mayröcker (famous for her dedicated poems such as Hypoallergenic).
I’d love to visit Austria and see this wonderful library for myself. Again, this library has an entrance fee.
5. Taiwan public Library: Beitou branch, Taiwan
This library is quite different from the other libraries I’ve featured today. This library was opened in 2006, it’s quite a bit younger than its fellow libraries listed. This beautiful library is heralded as Taiwan’s first ‘green library’.
Built with recycled materials, the library uses other bio-architectural technologies to reduce its ecological footprint. Rainwater collected and is used in the bathrooms. Solar panels are one of the tools used to assist in electrical supply. There are numerous other ways this building functions that are great for the environment.
The library has won numerous awards for its sustainability. It’s also credited with helping set a trend in Taiwan for building sustainable architecture. The building has seen an increase in visitors to the library.
I think often we have a set idea in our mind of what a library looks like and how it functions. I wanted to include a library on this list that extends the boundaries of how libraries function, yet remains beautiful regardless. The Beitou library has provided education about the environment to the public just by existing.
If ever you find yourself in Taiwan, check it out! I know I would love to!
Want to find out more about these libraries? Visit their websites below (Some pages will not be in English and you will need to hit ‘translate this page’ in your browser.
I hope you enjoyed todays post! I really enjoyed putting this one together. Do you like to travel? Comment below to let me know which library is your favourite! It could be one from todays list, or another one! There’s so many stunning libraries in the world. I’d love to hear which one is your favourite.
After writing this post I read the Uncorked Librarian’s blog post about the National Library of Latvia, aptly called the ‘Castle of Light’. Isn’t that an awesome name for a library?! It’s definitely made it to my library bucket list. If you want to read about that library you can check out Christine’s wonderful blog here.
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