Libraries of the World: Heart-achey Beauty

This is for my father, and for all library-lovers everywhere.

Theology Room at St. Deiniol’s library, North Wales

Herzog August Bibliothek, Germany

Austrian National Library (the Prunksaal)

Strahov Monastery – the 1st library, Prague, Czechoslovakia

Another one of Strahov Monastery Library -Prague, Czechoslovakia

Strahov Monastery – Theological Library, Prague, Czechoslovakia

Bodleian Library, Oxford University, England

National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia

National Library of Russia – the manuscript department, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Cathedral Library, Freising, Germany

The New Library of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The Abbey Library, St. Gallen, Switzerland – I had to post 2 images of this spectacular interior

El Escorial Library, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Melk Monastery Library, Melk, Austria

Trinity College Library, Cambridge, UK

Trinity College – the Long Room, Dublin, Ireland

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22 Responses to Libraries of the World: Heart-achey Beauty

  1. alli says:

    If you take the one on the top and add more glass and a lot more ugly, you’ve got my school’s library. :P

    Those libraries from Prague are so beautiful. I’ve always wanted to go to Prague, but I never realized I’d need to go to their libraries too!!! Those are incredible.

  2. dad says:

    Dearest–The Long Room holds its own pretty well in that group with simple elegance rather than baroque exhuberance. Even architects today do a pretty good job of it–they know the library should be monumental. see you soon. love, dad

  3. red says:

    Dad –

    I left the best for last! the Long Room is my favorite.

    see you soon!

  4. amelie / rae says:

    mouth… watering…

  5. Marti says:

    Oooooooooooh puuuuurrrrrty. *drool*

    I lurve libraries so very very much. I also love that my local library has a used book store in its front room. If I go to the library to take somethign out I usually end up with a new purchased book as well. I just can’t control myself. It’s like a compulsion——I see books and I MUST HAVE THEM! This post made me drool a little.

  6. Chonicler says:

    Did you know that there was a minor tempest over an image of The Long Room (also my personal favorite) when it was discovered that Lucasfilm may have ripped off its design for the Jedi Temple Archives in Attack of the Clones? I think the pictures speak for themselves.

    And Red, THANK YOU for giving geeky ol’ me the opportunity to show this link I’ve been saving for just such a purpose, to show someone who might remotely care. :D

  7. red says:

    I adore giving geeks a place to congregate and not be afraid.

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice the “similarity” between the jedi library and the Long Room! (I mean = similarity?? They’re identical!)

    It’s such a spectacular structure. I loooove the statuary.

    Oh and the last time I went there I noticed that the lettered stacks (each column is labeled with a letter from the alphabet) … I noticed that one letter was missing. I can’t remember which one, though – K? L?

    We chatted up the lovely security guard and he told us why the letter was missing but I can’t remember the reason.

    Dad?? Any idea?

  8. Nightfly says:

    At least he stole from something really good looking, and not (say) the Lindenhurst, NY public library on Wellwood Avenue in all its 60’s pebbly-exterior glory.

    I LOVE the shot of El Escorial, with that guy just staring slackly upward. That would be me, too. I couldn’t ever read in a place like this, I’d just need a gawker’s card.

  9. red says:

    Nightfly – I know, me too. Imagine going up to the librarian in that space and saying, “Hi – do you carry Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume? Thanks.”

  10. Ugggh, I am speechless! It boggles the mind to think of all the books I’ve never read. And if i am allowed one poignant obseravtion, not a computer in sight!!

    You can almost smell the musty pages and aged wood. Some of the images make me think the librarians had to have secret passages that ran to the vault of all the cherished books. You know, pull back on the copy of “How to Eat Fried Worms” and a shelf draws back to a cavernous, dim-lit room…

    Thanks for the great images!! I’ll sigh extra deeply when I walk into our fluorescent enshrined high school library.

  11. Kerry says:

    Gosh, just sooooo gorgeous. Sigh.

  12. Ceci says:

    Every picture is a different take of what I see as paradise on earth. Breathtakingly beautiful, all of them!

    I also would go with the Long Room as my ideal library – much wood, the sense of quiet, long isles full of tall bookshelves… just Heaven!

  13. Ken says:

    I’m with chuck. Wandering the stacks at the main library in Cleveland is at once exalting and melancholy.

    Exalting, because…how could it be otherwise? All those books, and though Cleveland isn’t in the same league architecturally as some of those pictures, parts of it are quite nice.

    Melancholy, because…all those books, and I’ll never know what most of them could have told me even if I lived twice as long as a human could rightly expect.

    I tell you, though, library architecture is just the icing on the cake. I can get just as transported at the Cleveland State University or Kent State University libraries, neither of which is architecturally interesting. You got enough books, it could be in a warehouse or a barn for all I would notice, philistine bookworm me. :-)

  14. Marisa says:

    I want my own library… Maybe it’s not too late to send a letter to Santa.

    Thanks for the photos. Absolutely breathtaking.

    Incedentally, have you any familiarity with Terry Pratchett? His discworld novels contain my favorite fictional library – The library of the Unsen University in which the books fly around or try to eat people and the librarian has been turned into an orangutan (He retains his position as Librarian because “he’s the only one who knows where all the books are”).

    I love fantastical fictional libraries because any book lover cannot enter a beautiful library without having that feeling that it is, in fact, a little magical.

  15. Nightfly says:

    Pratchett’s good stuff. “Be a MAN on the Night Watch!” But of course there are, technically speaking, no men at all among the six members of the Night Watch. I especially liked the bit (same book, as I recall) where he muses that you have to hope to fall into the clutches of a bad man – the bad man enjoys it too much and it gives you a chance to squirm free; but a good man will simply end the job. Never fall into the clutches of a good man…

  16. De says:

    Oh my! I wish I worked in one of those!

  17. Cato says:

    I am reminded of a chapter of the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” where Hugo, on one of his tangents, writes that the printing press will kill great architecture. He apparently didn’t realize that the printing press may cause great architecture as well.

  18. red says:

    Cato – I like that!

  19. basar says:

    read them all…!

  20. Pingback: Beautiful libraries | Film and radio production: news and resources

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