The 50 Most Amazing University Libraries in the World

If there’s anything the editors of BestMastersPrograms.org love more than classes and books, it’s universities and libraries. It’s no surprise, then, that university libraries rank right up there among our favorite places. We’ve researched the most interesting, intriguing, and beautiful college libraries from around the globe to come up with this list of the 50 most amazing university libraries in the world. This is the biggest, most comprehensive list of its kind. If you love university libraries as much as we do, then you’re going to love this!

UNAM’s Central University City Campus Library (Mexico City, Mexico)

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The UNAM Central University City Campus Library in Mexico City is part of the group of unique architectural structures that earned the UNAM campus recognition as a World Heritage site. In contrast to the majority of other buildings on the campus, the library is a towering square-shaped structure adorned with various murals painted by famous muralist Juan O’Gorman. The height, shape and artistic design of the building help it stand out from the rest. The library was moved from its previous location in the Mexico City Center, where it had been for half a century, to its current location in 1956. It houses more than 400,000 volumes.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)

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The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto houses Canada’s largest collection of historic and publicly accessible books. The library’s comprehensive collection includes religious manuscripts, groundbreaking scientific documents, political writings and exquisite etchings from the 17th century. Some of the most notable pieces in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library include original Shakespeare folios, a proof copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species, Newton’s Principia Mathematica and two copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle that date back to 1493. The collection also features fragments of Egyptian papyrus manuscripts, rare Hebraica and Judaica documents and 25,000 political publications that are part of the Robert S. Kenny Collection.

Tama Art University Library (Tokyo, Japan)

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If you thought that all university libraries were the same, then you haven’t seen the Tama Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan. Designed by renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the iconic concrete and glass structure boasts more than 60,000 square feet of floor space on two cavernous levels. While the building’s exterior resembles a cube-shaped Colosseum, vaulted ceilings and hundreds of arches give its interior the appearance of a medieval European cathedral. Easily among the world’s most fascinating university libraries.

Philological Library of the Free University (Berlin, Germany)

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The stunning design and masterful architecture of the Philological Library of the Free University in Berlin has earned it a place among the most interesting and dynamic libraries in Germany. Master architect Norman Foster skillfully designed the library in the shape of the human brain. The library, constructed in 2005, was immediately nicknamed the Berlin Brain. It contains four floors within a ventilated bubble-like canopy, and the inner membrane is constructed of translucent glass that filters the sun to allow for an atmosphere conducive to concentration. Transparent openings scattered throughout allow for momentary glimpses of daylight. The Philological Library houses more than 700,000 volumes and serves as an architectural landmark in Berlin.

Magdalen College Old Library at Oxford University (Oxford, UK)

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Oxford University is famous for its academic programs, but it’s also known for its outstanding libraries that are said to include more than 11 million books. The Old Library at Magdalen College is the crown jewel of the university’s library system. Magdalen’s Old Library contains more than 20,000 rare books and manuscripts. Nearly all of these volumes were published before 1800. The Magdalen College Old Library is said to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world with its studious interior and dramatic Gothic Revival exterior. However, those who’d like to catch a glimpse of the storied space must request an appointment to view the library’s special collection.

Balme Library at the University of Ghana (Ghana, West Africa)

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Used by students, researchers, faculty and staff members, the Balme Library at the University of Ghana is one of Africa’s premier research libraries. The library was built in the 1940s and has grown to include more than 100,000 books, 500 microfilms, a variety of rare manuscripts and an extensive assortment of electronic titles. Ghana’s Balme Library has six departments, a special collection and a student reading room that is open 24 hours a day. The library’s comprehensive inventory includes a wide variety of subjects and specialized volumes that are part of the United Nations Regional Depository and the World Bank collection.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University (New Haven, CT)

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The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was built over a three-year period beginning in 1960. The funding for the building was sourced from Yale alumni. Because it is used to house rare books that could easily be damaged, there are precise temperature and humidity controls throughout the entire building. Students are not allowed to take out any of the materials that are housed in the library’s underground storage and tower areas. However, rare books and manuscripts located in the library are available to be examined in the Reading Room. The building is made of light-colored marble that helps keep the volumes from being damaged by the sun.

University of Salamanca Library (Salamanca, Spain)

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Situated in the heart of the university’s historical center, the University of Salamanca Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in all of Spain. The old library, constructed in the 15th century, boasted the famous “EL Cielo de Salamanca” ceiling painting. While most of this painting collapsed during the library’s reconstruction in the 18th century, a portion remained hidden for nearly 200 years behind the ceiling of the new structure. The painting was restored and transferred to the university’s museum. This historic university library holds more than 160,000 volumes, many of which date back as far as the 11th century.

The University of Coimbra General Library (Coimbra, Portugal)

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The University of Coimbra General Library serves as the second largest library in Portugal. The library was first established in 1537 and is divided into two separate buildings. Edificio Novo is the newer building constructed in 1962. It houses more than a million volumes on four floors. Biblioteca Joanina, named in behalf of King João V, was established in the first part of the 18th century. This Baroque building contains more than 200,000 books printed before 1800. The Biblioteca Joanina boasts exquisite architecture and design with three great rooms, ornate arches, rich wood and gilt accents. The coat of arms of King João V is displayed over the front door.

Misr University for Science and Technology Library (6th of October City, Egypt)

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The Misr University for Science and Technology Library in Egypt exhibits a unique and modern design with up-to-date facilities. The skylights in the building are shaped like pyramids, combining a subtle touch of Egyptian history with modern technology and science. These interesting and unusual skylights allow natural light to flow into the library. A hall in the library has been transformed into a museum where replicas of Egypt’s most important and influential monuments can be viewed. The library is not limited to use by students at the university. Community members and researchers from all over the world are welcome to use the library’s services.

Old Library at St. John’s College of Cambridge University (Cambridge, UK)

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The Old Library of St. John’s College at Cambridge University is one of the oldest and most exquisite libraries in the UK. Constructed in 1624, the Jacobean Gothic style building is 110 feet in length and 30 feet wide. The tall windows in the library are reminiscent of Gothic Revival architecture, though the beautiful building’s facade seems to have been inspired by the Renaissance period. Cambridge University’s double-manual harpsichord is housed in the library, as well as 42 bookcases. While the Old Library no longer serves as a functioning library, it is opened throughout the week to members of the university and guests.

Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum at Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany)

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The impressively large Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum covers 20,000 square meters of floor space in the heart of Berlin. The library includes 12 distinct departments under one roof. There are more than 1,250 workstations and 500 research computers. Wireless access is available throughout the building, and all of the books are publicly accessible. All in all, the Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum has more than 2.5 million volumes and issues from 2,400 periodicals. This amazing library and study center is the largest and most accessible in Germany. The complete contents of several economics, social science, culture and humanities libraries can be found in this educational center.

József Attila Study and Information Centre at the University of Szeged (Szeged, Hungary)

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Constructed in 2004, the József Attila Study and Information Centre at the University of Szeged in Hungary receives an incredible 5,000 visitors a day. Originally a non-profit investment, the center’s success has allowed it to become a profit-oriented attraction. The spaciousness, lucid design and impressive architecture of the building have greatly contributed to its success. The education center houses student services, a conference room, lecture halls and the University Library, which contains an astounding 2 million volumes. Located in the third largest city in Hungry, the center has become a hub of cultural and scientific activity for the university, as well as the entire city of Szeged.

The Paul Barret Jr. Library at Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)

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Strategically placed at the back of the campus, the Paul Barret Jr. Library at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, acts as a second gateway to the college. The library, which was constructed in 2005, was designed to maintain the Gothic architectural style of the college. Clad in rubble and limestone, the building features two towers, a cloister and an apse. The copper and slate roof, carved symbols and Gothic design testify to the college’s commitment to tradition. Over 500,000 books are housed in the library, as well as computer labs, a technology room for the hearing and visually impaired, and a viewing theater that seats up to 32 individuals.

The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)

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Rising an amazing 110 feet in the air, the eight floors of the Geisel Library at the University of California in San Diego form a cylindrical shape that sits at the base of a canyon. The library’s widest point at ground level measures 248 feet, while the widest above-ground point is found on the sixth floor at 210 feet. The two lower levels act as a pedestal for the incredible six-story tower. Architect William Pereira, who designed this unique structure, anticipated that any future additions to the library would form levels around the tower base and descend into the canyon.

Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK)

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Named in honor of Lord Brotherton, who contributed greatly to the construction and furnishing of the library, the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds was opened in 1936. The building, designed by the firm of Lanchester, Lucas & Lodge, was initially intended to be accessed by way of the Parkinson building. Its exterior is of unadorned brick, as it was not to be visible. The delayed construction of the Parkinson building, however, put the library’s plain exterior on display for almost fifteen years. The interior of the building is in great contrast to the exterior, featuring a spacious dome, green Swedish marble columns, an elaborate iron balustrade and other embellishments.

Meskill Law Library at the University of Connecticut (Hartford, CT)

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The Meskill Law Library at the University of Connecticut is one of the most comprehensive law libraries in the United States, in addition to being one of the most beautiful. As a state university, the library provides a variety of services to the public. Its collection includes 500,000 volumes and thousands of legal periodicals dating back to 1908. All aspects of the law are represented in the library’s catalog. However, there’s also a large collection of insurance law volumes. The University’s Meskill Law Library was named after Thomas J. Meskill, an esteemed UConn graduate who worked in all three branches of the government and served as the governor of Connecticut.

Library at Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (Kedah, Malaysia)

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The spacious library at the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology in Kedah, Malaysia, is home to one of the world’s fastest-growing collection of books. This high-tech glass-clad building uses natural light and energy-efficient fixtures to reduce its environmental impact. The impressive semicircular structure features four floors and a comprehensive collection of books representing medical, engineering, business and financial topics. Advanced learning centers, research facilities and student areas are located throughout the massive library complex. In many ways, the library serves as the heart of the institute’s 230-acre campus community.

Butler Library at Columbia University (New York, NY)

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Butler Library at Columbia University in New York City was founded in 1934 as South Hall. The named was later changed to Butler Library as a tribute to the president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945, Nicholas Murray Butler. Although the library is just one of the 20 libraries on the Columbia University campus, Butler Library houses approximately two million books on a wide variety of topics related to the humanities. Designed by George Ainsworth in an Italian Renaissance style, the library consists of 12 floors of books and a utilization of natural light that was revolutionary for the time period in which it was built.

Chancellor Green Library at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

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The Chancellor Green Library at Princeton University is a classic example of Neo-Gothic architecture, and it is also an incredibly beautiful place to be. Constructed in 1872, the highly ornate building is filled with gables, arches, buttresses and diamond-shaped stained glass windows. Designed as an octagonal rotunda, it was the first building on the growing campus to be built for use as a library. Additionally, it is known for its symmetrical design and for the use of repeated patterns in various geometric shapes, including stars, diamonds, circles and octagons.

Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University (New Haven, CT)

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With a collection of 4 million volumes, the Sterling Memorial Library is the largest branch in the Yale University library system. The ornate building has an impressive book stack tower with 15 floors each representing a unique subject. The library was funded and designed by Yale graduates John William Sterling and James Gamble Rogers respectively. Its massive collection focuses on humanities and social science. Topics represented in the library include cultural studies from regions around the world, a historic map collection, a number of philosophic titles, a group of Babylonian volumes, the papers of Benjamin Franklin and many rare manuscripts.

Central Library at the University of Technology (Delft, Netherlands)

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Awarded the 1998 Dutch National Steel Prize, the Central Library at the University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands is a masterpiece of modern architecture. The library was designed by the Mecanoo architecture bureau and constructed in 1997. The incredibly unique structure was built directly behind the auditorium and features a sloped wall and roof covered in grass to serve as a recreational area for students. The wall directly across from the auditorium is made entirely of glass, and a steel cone adorns the top of the library. Four of the five levels within the library are contained in the cone.

The Harper Library Reading Room at the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

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The Harper Library Reading Room is a part of the original William Rainey Harper Memorial Library, which was constructed in 1910 and named in honor of the University of Chicago’s first president. The building itself was designed in an English Gothic style, and the reading room boasts an amazing 39-foot ceiling. In June 2009, the William Rainey Harper Memorial Library was closed, and the collections it housed were placed in the Regenstein Library. However, the building was brought back to life in June 2012 and renamed the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center in behalf of a generous financial donor.

Andrew Dickson White Library at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

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The Andrew Dickson White Library at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is a library within a library. The building is also home to Uris Library and was originally built in 1891 to house the 30,000 volumes of the personal collection belonging to the university’s first president. The structure is the oldest library building on the campus and originally featured skylights and an open archway that lead to the adjoining Dean Room. While the skylights and archway were lost during renovations, the original wrought-iron stacks still remain in the building. The library also still features artifacts, furniture and art work dating back to White’s academic career.

Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library at Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

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In 1892, Vassar trustee Frederick Ferris Thompson built a small extension to contain the college’s collection of 3,000 books. By 1905, Thompson’s wife built a new library to memorialize her husband. This building has been expanded several times to accommodate the college’s growing collection of books and manuscripts. Today, the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library contains more than 1 million volumes, thousands of periodicals, a large collection of microfiche records and a high-tech learning center known as the Media Cloisters. This massive collection of historic publications is housed in an impressive cathedral-style building. The library’s main hall is lit by a decorative rose window that portrays the first woman to receive a doctorate.

George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

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The George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University was established by the successful entrepreneur and banking magnate George Peabody. Until 1982, the library was part of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. The lavish Greek Revival building was designed by the celebrated architect Edmund Lind in 1857 and is often used as a venue for banquets and galas. This remarkable research library and reading room houses 300,000 volumes that cover a variety of topics. The majority of the library’s rare books date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. However, there are also cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia, early printed books and a quirky collection of Don Quixote editions.

Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)

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“Learning by study and also by faith” is the motto of the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. With an astounding 98 miles of bookshelves and approximately 6 million items, the library has grown from a small book collection housed in the principal’s office to one of the largest and most recognized university libraries in the United States. The library was named in honor of Harold B. Lee, who served as a former president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vocal Point, an a cappella group, recorded a music video at the library in April 2011, and a parody of an Old Spice commercial was filmed there in July 2010.

Riggs Library at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

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The Riggs Library at Georgetown University is one of only a few cast iron libraries still in existence today. It served as the main library from 1891 until 1970. The Riggs Library is housed in the south tower of the historic Healy Hall. The building, constructed between 1877 and 1879, features a Flemish Romanesque architectural design with subtle hints of Baroque. Healy Hall received national recognition in 1973 when it served as a background for the movie, “The Exorcist”. Parts of the interior were also used in the filming of “The Exorcist III”. While no longer used as the main library, the room still houses a number of books and is used as a reception area.

Duke Humfrey’s Library in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford (Oxford, UK)

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As the oldest reading room located in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, the Duke Humfrey’s Library houses music, maps, Western manuscripts, The University Archives, the Conservative Party Archives and rare books printed before 1641. The Duke Humfrey’s Library is on the first floor of the Bodleian Library and is formed in the shape of the letter H. The oldest section of the library in the center. It was named in the 15th century after the first Duke of Gloucester, Humphrey of Lancaster, who donated 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford. These manuscripts consisted of classical Greek works translated into Latin. Only three of the original books still remain in the library.

Suzzallo Library’s Graduate Reading Room at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

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The Suzallo Graduate Library, which presides over the University of Washington’s Red Square, is an architectural marvel. Shortly after its completion, architectural critics pronounced the Suzallo Library’s Reading Room to be one of the most beautiful rooms in the entire world. The Reading Room’s vaulted ceilings give it an air of extravagance, and luxurious hardwoods adorn the entire room. At each end of the room, hand-painted globes hang from the ceiling, inviting students to explore the world’s knowledge. Not to be outdone, the exterior of Suzallo features hand-carved statues of many of the world’s great academics, including Shakespeare, Plato, Newton, Goethe and more.

Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)

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The Rhode Island School of Design is home to the oldest and most influential independent art library in the United States. The school’s Fleet Library was established in 1878 and has grown to include 140,000 books, 685,000 images and sound recordings, 1,200 rare artist books and issues from 380 periodicals. Due to its historical significance, the library’s collection has become a retrospective that shows the evolution of art, architecture, photography and design. The collection covers textiles, jewelry, ceramics and many other disciplines. The Fleet Library at the Rhode Island School of Design has also been commended for its innovative restoration of a historic bank building.

Catholic University of Leuven Library (Flanders, Belgium)

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The original Catholic University of Leuven Library in Flanders, Belgium, was built in the first half of the nineteenth century. During World War I in 1914, the library was looted and destroyed by German troops. A new library was constructed between the years of 1921 and 1928. Designed by Whitney Warren, an American architect, the building reflects a neo-Flemish-Renaissance architectural style. As one of the largest university structures in the area, the towering size serves as a representation of the victory against Germany. In 1940, the building once again burned in the second German invasion and was rebuilt according to Warren’s designs.

Doe Memorial Library at the University of California-Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

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The Doe Memorial Library serves as the main library of the University of California Berkley campus. Constructed in 1910, the library was designed by John Galen Howard as was one of the original buildings of the “Athens of the West” campus architectural plan. The library was originally intended to serve as the first building people saw upon entering the university grounds. Today, however, the majority of individuals enter the campus from the opposite side. The library also houses the Gardner Collection, which includes some of the university’s most prized volumes, in an underground structure consisting of 52 miles of bookshelves.

La Sorbonne Reading Room at the University of Paris (Paris, France)

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Located at the University of Paris in France, La Sorbonne Reading Room is arguably one of the 50 most amazing university libraries in the world. Founded in 1328, it is Europe’s largest library and contains a whopping 470,000 books. Its main focus is on the humanities, social sciences and literature. Music lovers appreciate the 10,000 cataloged scores. Students who are supposed to be studying at the library can enjoy the historic architecture and ornate artwork on the ceiling and walls at La Sorbonne Reading Room at the University of Paris.

Cairo University Central Library (Cairo, Egypt)

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The original Cairo University Central Library was opened in 1932 to provide students and academics at Cairo University with a central library collection to aid in research. Many of the early collections available at the library were related to archaeology, reference materials and Arabic culture. Renovations were completed in 1994 after Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt at the time, ordered research on how the library could be updated in order to make it more modern. The library that is now open at Cairo University is a new building that was founded in 2008. The building has a very modern design that uses geometric shapes to create its identity as a piece of current architecture.

Trinity College Library/The Long Room (Dublin, Ireland)

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The Long Room in the Old Library in Trinity College, Dublin, is famous for its history, its solemn beauty, its marble busts and its collection of 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. Built in 1712, the 213-foot-long room underwent a major renovation in 1860, which raised the roof and created the upper tier of bookcases. In addition to the marble busts that line the room, depicting Trinity College notables and the world’s great writers and philosophers, the Long Room’s valuable treasures include a 15th century harp and a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

The Joe & Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

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The Joe & Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago is an architectural masterpiece created by architect Helmut Jahn. Constructed between 2008 and 2011, this incredible structure was opened to the public in May 2011 with a grand opening celebration in October. In November, just a few short months after opening, the Chicago Architecture Foundation presented the library with the Patron of the Year Award, which recognizes that good architecture requires good clients who are willing to take risks. This astounding structure features an above-ground reading room sheltered beneath a dome and an underground area that serves as a storage space for the library’s vast collections. The books are stacked in stainless steel bins and retrieved by robotic cranes.

Uris Library at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

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The Uris Library at Cornell University is a remarkable research library that is open 24 hours a day. The building was designed by William Henry Miller, an early Cornell architecture graduate. It became the university’s first library when it opened in 1891, and it still houses the school’s primary collection of books and manuscripts. These collections focus on humanities, social sciences and subjects that reflect the school’s general curriculum. The Uris Library contains many noteworthy collections related to philosophy, cultural studies, linguistics, the history of science, American history and the literary classics.

Heidelberg University Library (Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany)

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Constructed between the years of 1901 and 1905, the amazing Heidelberg University Library was designed by architect Josef Durm. Using Heidelberg Castle as inspiration, Durm combined the Renaissance style of the castle with Art Nouveau to create a richly adorned and unique four-wing building. The red sandstone library incorporates a number of windows at the front of the building to allow for natural lighting within. Throughout the years, the library has been expanded upon numerous times. The Heidelberg University Library houses more than 3 million books, a large variety of media and periodicals, paintings, photos, old maps, electronic services and more.

Pompeu Fabra University Library (Barcelona, Spain)

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Constructed in 1874, the building that now houses the Pompeu Fabra University Library was originally used as a water tower. In subsequent years, it also served as a government parking garage, fire station, civic asylum and fire station. The original design incorporated tall Roman arches and long passageways. The three buildings of the campus are connected by underground tunnels that were originally used by soldiers. The tunnel connecting the library to the Jaume I building has been expanded to make room for meeting areas and an underground computer lab. A wall located outside the building was likely intended to prevent tampering or trespassing at the water tower. It now provides a quiet outside area of study for students.

The University of Helsinki Library [now the National Library of Finland] (Helsinki, Finland)

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The University of Helsinki Library in Helsinki, Finland, is a prime example of the Empire style in Finnish architecture. Built during the 1840s, the library boasts a classical-looking façade, and while the rotunda is a later addition, it enhances the impact of the original building. Since 2006, the library has served as the National Library of Finland, and the Fennica collection, Finland’s national archives, is kept there. Interestingly, most of the library’s books are stored in an underground kirjaluola or bookcave. As far as amazing university libraries go, the University of Helsinki Library is certainly among the top 50.

University of Michigan Law Library (Ann Arbor, MI)

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The University of Michigan Law Library can be easily placed among the world’s most prestigious university libraries. The library strives to provide all students and faculty with the best possible law information and material for in-depth research and learning. Massive study spaces, towering shelves of law reference books and advanced legal research areas can be found in the library. Collections within the library include legal papers from the United States government, the United Nations, the former League of Nations, pre-Soviet Russia and Roman law. Additionally, Michigan’s historical Law Library holds a manuscript from the year 1365 titled De ecclesiastico interdicto: distinctiones decretalium.

Pontifical Lateran University Library (Rome, Italy)

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The Pontifical Lateran University Library in Rome, Italy was originally founded in 1854 as the Biblioteca Pia by Blessed Pope Pius IX. A unique aspect of the library is that it is a collection of smaller libraries that houses books that were previously privately owned by several popes and prominent Italian families. The current library integrates modern design and historically significant book collections that have been donated or otherwise acquired over the course of the library’s history. The architectural design uses clean, white lines and and open floor plan that allows natural light to filter through the library in order to create a structure that is conducive to the academic atmosphere.

Powell Library at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)

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Inspired by the Basilica of Sant’ Ambrogio in Milan, Italy, the Powell Library at UCLA features a Romanesque Revival architectural style. Beautiful mosaics adorn the entrance to the library and a number of artistic Renaissance printer’s marks can be viewed on the ceiling. As one of the university’s original four structures, the library was constructed between the years of 1926 and 1929. It was later named in honor of Lawrence Clark Powell, who served as the university’s librarian from 1944 until 1961.Lawrence Clark Powell also was the Dean of the Graduate School of Library Service between 1960 and 1966.

Widener Library at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

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Situated on the south end of the Harvard University campus, the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library is part of the most extensive university library system in the world. Opened in 1915, the Widener Library functions as the core of over 70 libraries comprising the Harvard University library system. The beautiful brick building encompasses 320,000 square feet of space and includes an incredible 57 miles of bookshelves. Among the 3 million volumes housed in the library is one of the few existing copies of the Gutenberg Bible. A number of special collections are also housed in the library, including American, African, Asian, Judaic, German, Middle Eastern, Slavic, Iberian and Modern Greek.

Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

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The University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library is clearly one of the most impressive university libraries in the world. This ornate brick building in Philadelphia was constructed in the late 19th century. It is a National Historic Landmark. The library’s artistic design boasts a number of sky lights, arches and chimneys. It also features attractive windows and a high ceiling. Gargoyle heads adorn the outside walls, looking as if they were put there to guard the building. The library offers many books on art, city planning and architecture. It often remains open until midnight.

Pitts Theology Library at Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

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Pitts Theology Library is a part of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. As one of the largest theological libraries in the United States, it houses more than 550,000 volumes. Some of the library’s more distinguished collections have earned it national recognition. In honor of Miss Margaret A. Pitts, who made substantial donations to the university during her lifetime, the library was renamed in 1974 to recognize her and her father. The Pitts Library adds approximately 7,000 volumes to its already extensive collection each year and houses more than 120,000 rare books upon its shelves.

Bapst Library at Boston College (Boston, MA)

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The Bapst Art Library at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts was originally the main library of Boston College. Named for Johannes Bapst, the first president of the college, the library transitioned to serve art majors in 1984. The library features over 400 study areas for students conducting research. A gallery located in the library exhibits the artwork of students, faculty members and members of the Boston College staff. Students can access over 51,000 volumes on the topics of art, museum studies, photography and architecture. The design of the building is reminiscent of Gothic architecture.

Linderman Library at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA)

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The Linderman Library at Lehigh University was built in 1877 by the university’s founder Asa Packer. The building underwent extensive remodeling and reopened in 2007. This historic library contains approximately 20,000 rare books and many special collections with an emphasis on English and American literature and humanities. The Linderman Library has an original four-volume copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, manuscripts from Charles Darwin and writings from John Muir, Henry Thoreau and Rachel Carson. The collection includes contemporary government papers, investigative reports and historic documents related to natural history, ornithology, science and technology.

Galway Mayo Institute Of Technology Library (Galway, Ireland)

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Constructed in 2004, The Galway Mayo Institute of Technology Library in Ireland received the 2005 ACEI Award for Innovation in recognition of its unique design, which addresses environmental conditions and helps identify the school as an innovation in modern technology. The library contains three levels and three atria that are centrally located to allow natural light to flow into the library. Its innovative design makes use of natural ventilation as an alternative to a mechanical cooling and ventilation system. The exterior features three sail-shaped copper panels on the south side of the library that act as solar shields, acoustic barriers, light reflectors and air dispensers.

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