The New Age of Librarianship

The Top Libraries in the World

If you’re a fan of the quiet dignity of your local public or school library, wait until you see some of these. These libraries are either record breakers or libraries that stand out from the rest in design, collection size, location, and more. So take a moment and let the world fade away while you pretend you’re in one of these amazing libraries.

 Most Daring: Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, Mexico


Image via Flickr by Rosa Menkman

This library cost over 100 million dollars to build. The unique design makes it seem like each floor is hanging in midair above the one below.

Longest-standing: Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, France


Image via Flickr by (vincent desjardins)

This library is the world’s oldest public library still open today. It was first constructed in 1368, making it about 650 years old. The Labrouste Room, pictured above, is a beautiful round room with bookshelves along the outer rim and domed ceilings with skylights.

Most Inventive: Musashino Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan


Image via Flickr by Park

The walls of this innovative library are constructed entirely of shelving with a glass exterior. Many of the 20-feet-high wall shelves and single shelves under each stair remain empty of books, but the library makes an artistic promise of potential and inevitable books to come.

Most Famous: New York Public Library in New York, NY, USA


Image via Flickr by Reading Tom

You may have seen this library in movies like Ghostbusters (1984), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Spider-Man (2002), and more. The lions out front, as well as the statuesque gothic pillars and archways, make the outside of this library very recognizable. It’s not only the most movie-famous library, but also the most visited in the world, with over 18 million visitors per year, and the largest public library in the U.S. with about 53.1 million items.

Most Items Catalogued: British Library in London, UK


Image via Flickr by Jim Linwood

This collection makes the New York Public Library look like a single bookshelf. With about 170 million items including historical documents, journals, music recordings, newspapers, magazines, videos, and over 14 million books, this library currently holds the record for the largest in the world. They’re not slowing down either. The library incorporates about 3 million new items a year, occupying about six miles of new shelf space.

Highest: Executive Library At the JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai, China


Image via Flickr by Micah Sittig

This is literally the top library in the world. The Executive Library is on the 60th floor, 230.9 m (757 ft 6 in) above street level. It holds the Guinness World Record for highest library in the world. Membership is open to the public, but not encouraged for those afraid of heights.

There are libraries all over the world that are even more stunningly beautiful and otherwise more impressive than the ones listed here. To show off all the world’s top libraries in one concise article would be an impossible task. Now, you at least have a place to start your search for an awesome library to visit when you travel the globe.