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Whether you’re a bookworm, architecture lover or you just appreciate an Instagrammable interior, these stunning book collections will soon have you planning how (and with what capital) you could turn your bedroom into an equally impressive library of your own.
1. Abbey Library of Saint Gall, Switzerland
Covering 12 centuries of non-stop collecting, the library of the Abbey of Saint Gall is as renowned for its historic book collection as it is for its unrivalled beauty.
2. Morgan Library and Museum, US
Sure, you could go the New York Public Library, but this gem has a lot more character. You’re less likely to receive hostile looks when you pull out your camera too.
3. Trinity College, Ireland
Anyone whose favourite fragrance is the smell of dusty tomes will be entranced by Trinity College Dublin’s library. Almost 300 years old, it holds a staggering 200,000 of the world’s oldest volumes.
4. Rijksmuseum, Netherlands
Pretend you are at Amsterdam’s most well-known museum for the iconic art all you like, but we know you’re really there for a peek at Cuypers Library. Wrought-iron railings and curved-glass ceiling make it the very definition of #libraryporn.
5. The Library, France
Possibly more impressive than Frank Gehry’s striking Fondation Louis Vuitton (yeah, we said it), the recently refurbished Richelieu Library has not one, but two beautiful reading rooms.
6. Strahov Monastery, Czech Republic
One of the oldest on our list, the Theological Hall of Strahov Monastery has been collecting book dust since 1679. With floor-to-ceiling bookshelves giving way to opulently frescoed ceilings, it’s almost like the monks designed it for Instagram.
7. George Peabody Library, US
Ever wanted to get married in a library? You can here. Fittingly described as a “cathedral of books”, it won’t take much – only six floors of Grecian columns and ornate railed staircases – to woo us.
8. Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Brazil
Holding the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal itself, the beautifully detailed shelves of Rio’s royal reading room are at distinct odds with the graffiti-tagged buildings outside.
9. Stift Admont, Austria
We’re convinced this ornate pastel wonder was the real-life inspiration for the library in Beauty and the Beast. Tucked away in an abbey in remote Admont, Austria, it’s certainly worth the two hour drive from Salzburg.
10. Wiblingen Monastery, Germany
Perhaps the only library on our list where the books take second place to the decor, this baroque-style library is awash with multi-coloured marble columns, frescoed ceilings, statues and gold detailing.
11. Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico
Only completed in 2007, Mexico City’s enormous public library is a contemporary marvel, with stacks of mismatched glass and steel shelves that seem to float toward the ceiling in a warehouse-like space. If you get lost you may never find your way out.
12. Tianjin Binhai Library, China
Causing quite a stir among book lovers when it opened in 2017, the futuristic Tianjin Binhai Library turned out to be not quite what it seemed. The books on display are painted on and the real volumes are in the rooms behind. We still think it deserves a spot on the list, however, if only for its eye-catching design.
13. Melk Library, Austria
More proof that those Austrian monks really knew how to design a library worthy of holding their most precious tomes, this is the kind of library where you almost expect to pull a book down from a shelf and have a secret door swing open.
14. Stuttgart Library, Germany
Part library, part Stairmaster, the Stuttgart Library is as futuristic as they come. A minimalist white cube split into five floors and criss-crossed by staircases, this ultra modern construction needs no filter.
15. Qatar National Library, Doha, Qatar
Qatar National Library’s million-strong collection of books, periodicals and the like is mightily impressive. Head six metres below the main level and explore the library’s heritage volumes, which are housed among beige travertine.
16. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New Haven, US
A glass-clad tower of books rises through the centre of this marvel of a building. Notable tomes include the Gutenberg Bible (the first Western book printed using mass-produced, movable metal type in Europe) and James Audubon’s Birds of America.
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