Most gorgeous university libraries

Study area inside John Rylands Library

These days, plenty of libraries are not just valuable for their contents, but also for their unique designs. As students, we tend to use these buildings as our second homes – and if a library has a gorgeous interior, it makes us want to spend more time in one. Because libraries are places for learning, some of the most gorgeous libraries around the world are actually based in universities.

Here are some of the most gorgeous libraries located within universities, and they’re all open to visitors!

Canada: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

☞ Location: University of Toronto, Ontario

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library houses some of the rarest books in the world. It holds around 700,000 ancient volumes and 3,000 metres of manuscripts, with an impressive collection of books about ancient ‘monsters’ (pygmies, supposed mermaids, deformed fetuses, etc) and medical obscura in the form of anatomical illustrations. What’s perhaps more impressive is its 70s architecture that makes you feel as if you’re in a supervillain’s slick evil lair. More pics

USA: George Peabody Library

☞ Location: The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

The George Peabody Library is the 19th-century research library of The Johns Hopkins University, although these days it’s also a backdrop for weddings and TV/films. Completed in 1878, its interior atrium soars 20m high to a skylight of frosted glass, surrounded by black cast-iron balconies. The 300,000 volume collection mostly consists of reference works dating to the late 19th century on subjects ranging from archaeology to science to literature. The library is still open to the general public today, as per Peabody’s original intention. More pics

USA: Uris Library

By eflon – https- photos eflon 2874341070 in set-72157607982619613

☞ Location: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Designed by William Henry Miller, Cornell’s first architecture student, the A.D. White Reading Room of Uris Library is home to over 8 million books. This cross-shaped library resembles a church, complete with a clock tower and stained glass windows. This interesting reading room features a construction of filigreed golden bookcases that act as shelf-lined cubicles in which students can sit and do their work. More pics

USA: Riggs Library

☞ Location: Georgetown University, Washington DC

Opened in 1891, it is one of the few cast iron libraries left in the nation. Once Georgetown University’s main library, Riggs Library still houses books, but is now used mostly as a reception space. The four floors of cast iron walkways are laid out around a central atrium, connected by two spiral staircases. Set within the tall bookshelves are small alcoves that overlook the atrium.

USA: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

☞ Location: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

The Beinecke Library houses 780,000 rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible (one of 48 in the world), but what’s more interesting is perhaps its architecture. Raised on four piers, the facade of this windowless building is constructed of thin, translucent veined marble which allow natural light to filter into the library without damaging the books. The central glass tower contains the library’s ancient collection – surrounded by an elevated public exhibition mezzanine floor. More pics

UK: Duke Humfrey’s Library

By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

☞ Location: University of Oxford, Oxfordshire

Nestled within the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford is the Duke Humfrey’s Library – one of the oldest reading rooms in Europe. Built between 1450 and 1480, books at this Medieval library were likely chained to the wall (chains were long enough to bring books to a table). Today, its rows of old oak shelves house some extremely rare books, including Shakespeare’s First Folio and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. You may also recognise this space as the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films – you can visit it on daily guided tours. More pics

UK: John Rylands Library


☞ Location: University of Manchester, Manchester

Created over 100 years ago, the John Rylands Library is housed in an extraordinary Neo-Gothic building, consisting of various rooms. From the Historic Entrance Hall, the main staircase offers views of the Historic Reading Room below and the Lantern Gallery above. The alcoves of the Historic Reading Room was designed for private study, featuring high windows to let light in, but obscure a view of the outside. The original Victorian toilets – unchanged since 1900 – are still in use. More pics

Ireland: Long Room, Old Library

☞ Location: Trinity College, Dublin

The 65m-long Long Room at Trinity College’s Old Library was built between 1712 and 1732 and is distinctive for its beautiful barrel ceiling which was added in 1860 to add more space when the existing shelves became full. Decorated with marble busts of famous philosophers and writers, the library holds in its oak bookcases 200,000 ancient books – the most famous being the 9th century Book of Kells, which is lavishly decorated with Celtic and Christian iconography. More pics

Portugal: Biblioteca Joanina

☞ Location: Coimbra University, Coimbra

The ornate 1717 Biblioteca Joanina is a baroque fantasy of exotic carved wood, intricate arches, gilded Chinese motifs, and lacquered wooden bookshelves. It once had its own prison in the basement that confined its scholars, but today, the only creepy element is the resident bat army that flies out at night (they sleep between the bookshelves by day) to feast on manuscript-munching bugs. Cleverly embedded between the shelf spaces are private study rooms and ladders that access higher shelves. More pics

Romania: Iași Library

☞ Location: Gheorghe Asachi Technical University, Iași

Inaugurated in 1897, the Iasi Library is situated within Gheorghe Asachi Technical University’s Academic Palace in Copou. The eclectic architecture is a mixture of Baroque and Rococo elements, the ceiling decorated with Venetian stucco paint. The palace itself actually comprises the library and the University Hall, which is one of the most beautiful in Romania. The two spaces are physically connected via a balcony, both open to visitors for free.

Austria: Library of the Vienna University of Economics

☞ Location: Vienna University of Economics, Vienna

With its asymmetrical windows and curved lines, this futuristic library is unmistakably the work of late architect Zaha Hadid. The focus of this building is the large jutting cantilevered block that serves as the library, with large windows that provide sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. The pure white interior with it asymmetrical angles gives it a very airy feel, is described as “a free-form interior canyon” that resembles layers of rock formation. More pics