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Study abroad : Before you leave

10 Most amazing libraries in the world


‘Academic library architecture is reflecting and predicting how we learn now and into the future’, reported Claire Shaw from the Guardian.

The libraries are not merely a piece of architecture but a reflection of the traditions and history of an institution, while alongside providing a glimpse into the future aspirations for growth and progress of that institution. This is why Diane Job from University of Birmingham says that ‘libraries are some of the most evolutionary buildings that you can imagine.’

Among these evolutionary buildings, there are some that stand out in their architecture and distinction, of which we have made a list of our favourites:


George Peabody Library at John Hopkins University, USA

The 150 years old George Peabody library is one of the three universities under John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. This library alone has over 3.6 million volumes of books in its shelves that have been organised into ten different divisions depending on the departments and subjects. These divisions include books about all subjects except for music.

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Bodleian Library at Oxford University, UK

Bodleian library is located in the heart of Oxford and is home to over 3.5 million volumes distributed across 11 floors, out of which 3 are built underground. The library has been serving its readers for last 70 years after being built in 1946.



General Library at University of Coimbra, Portugal

The general library at University of Coimbra is about 500 years old and was functional even before the university was set up. There are over a million books in the library spread over 4 floors and 7000 square meters.



Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, USA

As suggested by the name, the library is meant exclusively for the manuscripts and volumes that are rarely in the world. The researcher, faculty members or students are only allowed to access these manuscripts inside the library and to further protect these manuscripts the temperatures and humidity kept to an optimum. There is a central towers with over 180,000 volumes, with a several million other manuscripts located elsewhere in the library.




Harper Library at University of Chicago, USA

The library was built by the first president of University of Chicago, Willian Rainey Harper about 100 years ago. The library is known mostly for its magnificent architecture among six other libraries of the university.



Law Library at University of Michigan, USA

The law library at University of Michigan was built only about 30 years ago. The university has over a million volumes in its bookshelves, over the total area of 77,000 square feet with 37 balconies.



City Campus Library at Unitersidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

City campus library is the main library at UNAM and has the largest collection of volumes (approx. 500,000) in the whole of Mexico serving a large community of academics, students and researchers. The library stands out in architecture from all other buildings because of the mosaic that has been painted all across the library’s walls by two of the Mexico’s most celebrated artists.



Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at University of Toronto, Canada

The library has large collections of institutional records, rare books, university archives and manuscripts that are available for public access since last 40 years. The book shelves hold about 700,000 volumes in the library.



Library at Tama Art University, Japan

The Tama Art University library has a distinctive architecture with a vibe that is modern, youthful and airy. The library was designed in consultation with an engineer, Mutsuro Sasaki to determine 56 pillars that evenly distribute the load and 166 arches across the building.



Suzzallo Library at University of Washington, USA

Suzzallo library is the biggest one in Seattle with over 6 million volumes in its shelves. The building is over 90 years old, when it was also proposed to have a bell tower that was never built unlike the initial plan.



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