Laura Bush in her famous quote said: “I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” Library, traditionally, collection of books used for reading or study, or the building or room in which such a collection is kept.
Libraries have been seen to be the wardrobe of literature, which people can use to bring forth new innovations by reading, studying and exploring new things. In more explicit terms, Williams Dyer said- “Libraries are the wardrobes of literature, whence men, properly informed may bring forth something for ornament, much for curiosity, and more for use.”
- What makes a library exceptional?
- Why do I need the best libraries?
- Requirements For Accessing The Best Libraries in the World
- 13 Best Libraries in the World
- 1. BODLEIAN LIBRARY — OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM
- 2. READING ROOM AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM — LONDON, ENGLAND
- 3. YALE UNIVERSITY BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY — NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT, USA
- 4. VATICAN LIBRARY — VATICAN CITY, ROME
- 5. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ST. MARK’S — VENICE, ITALY
- 6. BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY — BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
- 7. LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT — OTTAWA, CANADA
- 8. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY — NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA
- 9. THOMAS FISHER RARE BOOK LIBRARY — TORONTO, CANADA
- 10. SEATTLE CENTRAL LIBRARY — SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA
- 11. ABBEY LIBRARY OF SAINT GALL — ST. GALLEN, SWITZERLAND
- 12. AUSTRIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY — VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- 13. WREN LIBRARY
- Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a library exceptional?
When you enter a library, there are some things you look out for. Research has shown that the best libraries in the world have a common feature. They are not just regarded as the best libraries for no reason. They have significant qualities. Some of what makes a good library also make up the best libraries in the world. Some of them are-
- The best libraries in the world mostly have natural light
- In the best libraries in the world, the shelves are easy to reach
- In the best libraries in the world, technology is a forefront. Technology is accessible to patrons and visible to staff
- The best libraries in the world also have features that allow for seating for collaboration and for independent work
- The best libraries ion the world has lots of comfortable furniture
- The best libraries in the world mostly have a social space for interaction and knowledge exchange
- The best libraries in the world have a quiet space for contemplation
- The best libraries in the world mostly have a neutral and trusted space for public use.
- The best libraries in the world mostly have a good range of books
- The best libraries in the world mostly have longer opening hours
- The best libraries in the world mostly have core library service for free
- The best libraries in the world mostly have help from knowledgeable librarians
Why do I need the best libraries?
If the libraries you have been going to are all mundane with nothing special in them, then you need to attend any of the worldwide ranked best libraries. Some of the reasons why you need to attend these libraries are-
- These libraries are quite ideal. The world’s smartest and richest people have put their time and money into them. Do you know what it means for the world richest people to put in money and time into a thing? It has to bring out amazing results.
- In the best libraries in the world, librarians are trained to do high-level research, which supports scientists, doctors, lawyers, professors, writers, government officials, and other important professionals every single day.
- In the best libraries in the world, there are often amazing services which include you being able to take basic computer lessons for free. You would barely get this in your conventional libraries.
- These libraries are economically efficient. Their model of sharing allows them to serve many people with few resources. They often join to create consortia in order to buy hardware, software, and information at lower group prices.
- The best libraries in the world has recorded exceptionally high rates of Return on Investment; some have been measured at more than 600% ROI.
- In the best libraries in the world, you have the liberty of enjoying the after-hours homework help, via online services that they subscribe to in order to support students’ learning.
- The best libraries in the world mostly have all the information you could possibly need, on any topic. Of recent, only a tiny fraction of the world’s information is available for free on the internet. All of this information is accessible through libraries.
- The best libraries in the world are the original, and still the best, search engines.
- The best libraries in the world mostly have DVDs, magazines, computers, photocopiers, fax machines, meeting rooms and of course, books.
- The best libraries in the world mostly provide a vital social service by helping bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots, especially when it comes to literacy and computer skills training.
- The best libraries in the world have been known to change lives.
Requirements For Accessing The Best Libraries in the World
Every library has rules which are peculiar to it. These compilation is based on the best libraries in the world. There are rules and regulations, requirements and guidelines which guide every library as they strive to maintain orderliness and ranking worldwide.
You must not engage in any conduct that interferes with the normal operations of the Library, its staff, or its use by other visitors. Some of these acts include-
- Harassing or threatening behavior.
- Soliciting, petitioning, or canvassing.
- Selling or advertising any goods or services.
- Using obscene or abusive language or gestures.
- Making unreasonable noise, including loud talking on a cell phone.
- Engaging in sexual conduct or lewd behavior.
- Possessing a knife, gun, or any other weapon.
- Smoking, including electronic cigarettes.
- Using alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Failing to maintain appropriate personal hygiene.
- Using a bicycle, roller blades, skates, skateboard, in-line roller skates, or similar devices.
- Bringing in an animal, unless it is assisting a person with a disability.
- Damaging, defacing, or misusing any Library materials or property. This includes disabling Library equipment, changing the hardware or software or settings on a Library computer, or using a Library computer for a purpose other than that designated by the Library.
- Engaging in any activity in violation of federal, state, or local law or University or library policies.
Most of the best libraries in the world would not disturb you if you are taking a short nap or people who enjoy to read while lying down. However, when you make excessive use of seating or space that interferes with priority usage for others, you would most likely be confronted.
The best libraries in the world, like most other libraries, there is a requirement that you maintain strict silence, decorum and discipline. You would not be allowed to use cell phones to make calls. You can however be sent text messages if your phone is on silent mode. Like other libraries around the world, you should know that documents and books taken out of the shelves must be left on the table. You are not allowed to replacing the books on shelves to avoid misplacing them.
In the best libraries in the world, you are NOT allowed to mark, underline, dog-ear, write, tear pages or otherwise damage the library documents and books. Newspapers, magazines and journals must be read only in the library on specific tables and should not be taken to any other reading areas.
13 Best Libraries in the World
1. BODLEIAN LIBRARY — OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM
This library was first made as Oxford University’s library in 1602. Till date, it is the oldest library in Europe. This library has archives, rare books, printed ephemera, maps, music and digitised collections.
In addition, Bodleian Library houses over 11 million items, including many of historical importance like- four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Shakespeare’s First Folio (from 1623), to name a few.
Part of the larger Bodleian library complex, it is connected to the Radcliffe Camera by the underground Gladstone Link. It has three historic reading rooms- the lower reading room, the upper reading room and the Duke Humphrey’s Library.
This library is quite popular and famous, appearing in multiple films, including Young Sherlock Holmes, The Saint, The Red Violin, and The Golden Compass.
2. READING ROOM AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM — LONDON, ENGLAND
The Reading Room at the British Museum is located in the centre of the Museum’s Great Court. On several account, it has been hailed as one of the beautiful sights in London, England. It was used for special exhibitions from 2007 until 2013. The building’s domed exterior protects a unique interior ceiling made of a special kind of papier-mâché.
For much of the Room’s history, access was limited to registered researchers, attracting notable visitors including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Gandhi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells during this time. Of recent, the Reading Room now houses an information centre and a curated collection of specialty art and history titles relevant to the collections of the British Museum.
3. YALE UNIVERSITY BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY — NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT, USA
The Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the largest building in the world that serves the express purpose of preserving rare books and manuscripts, which alone undoubtedly makes it one of the best libraries in the world.
The library’s impressive holdings celebrate significant authors like Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, and Joseph Conrad through its special collections.
This library is open to all Yale university students, staff, and faculty authorized to be on campus. A valid Yale I.D is required to the building at all times. The library is wonderful as its shelving area is built with glass walls and soft lighting which protect the books and manuscripts from direct light. This library is financially independent from the university and is co-governed by the University Library and Yale Corporation.
4. VATICAN LIBRARY — VATICAN CITY, ROME
The Vatican Library, under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It is mostly seen as a research library for history, law, philosophy, since and theology. The Vatican Library currently holds over 1.1 million books, 75,000 manuscripts, and over 8,500 incunabula.
The library also owns the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible and many other significant works from medieval times. The library is open to anyone who can document their qualifications and research needs.
5. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ST. MARK’S — VENICE, ITALY
Located in Venice, Italy, the National Library of St. Mark’s contains one of the world’s most important collections of classical texts. It is a public library and is one of the earliest surviving public libraries which has its own fair share of classical texts.
The library is named after St Mark, the city’s patron saint. Today, the collection encompasses over a million books, over 13,000 manuscripts, 2,883 incunabula, and more than 24,000 16th-century works.
6. BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY — BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
Established in 1848, Boston Public Library was the first publicly supported library in the United States and, with its present collection of 22 million items, also the second-largest. The Central Library consists of two buildings, the Johnson Building and the McKim Building, which houses the library’s research collection and exhibitions. It is also referred to a commonwealth library. All adult residents of the commonwealth are entitled to borrowing and research privileges.
The library is also popular for its medieval manuscripts, incunabula, and early Shakespeare, including a First Folio, colonial Boston records, and a major Daniel Defoe collection. The collection is also home to the libraries of several notable figures in American history, including John Adams, William Lloyd Garrison, and Nathaniel Bowditch.
7. LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT — OTTAWA, CANADA
The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada is special. It is the only library printed on the country’s currency- It is featured on Canada’s ten-dollar bill. The British Museum Reading Room, and includes walls supported by 16 flying buttresses, a vaulted ceiling in the main reading room, and white pine panelling with beautifully detailed carvings of flowers, masks, and mythical creatures inspired the design of this national landmark.
The library has been augmented and renovated several times since its construction in 1876, the last between 2002 and 2006, though the form and décor remain authentic.
8. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY — NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA
The New York Public Library is popular for its scope and breadth. It has been ranked the third largest library in North America with over 50 million items in its collection, the second largest public library in the United States, and the fourth largest in the world. The library gained America’s first Gutenberg Bible, and also houses collections with a special emphasis on Americana literature and printed materials.
The library has been a key provider for free books, information, ideas, and education for new Yorkers for a long time. The library has also made multiple appearances in feature films, as a key setting in The Day After Tomorrow and as a prominent backdrop in the original Ghostbusters.
9. THOMAS FISHER RARE BOOK LIBRARY — TORONTO, CANADA
Affiliated with the University of Toronto, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library houses rarer books than any other collection in Canada. The library also contains the papers of many important literary figures like Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen.
The library’s collection also includes unique artefacts like Newton’s Principia (1687), Shakespeare’s First Folio, the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), and a Babylonian cuneiform tablet dating to 1789 BC. Robert S. Kenny, a Communist Party of Canada member, also donated a large part of the collection.
This library also has annotated proof sheets of ‘the effects of cross and self-fertilization in the vegetable kingdom’ In all, the rare book library includes over 25,000 items with a special focus in labor movements worldwide, though with a particular emphasis on Canada and its history.
10. SEATTLE CENTRAL LIBRARY — SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA
The Seattle Central Library is the flagship library of the Seattle Public Library System. It is very modern, with a beautiful 11-story glass and steel design created by architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, the Seattle Central Library opened in Washington’s largest city in 2004.
With their contemporary design, the architects aimed to create an inviting open and airy space, challenging the popular perception of libraries as dark and stuffy. The library was built to accommodate over 1.45 million books and mixed media materials.
The building contains a 275-seat auditorium, and open spaces where patrons can meet, study, search the web or read. The library also has provisions for children, teens, and adult readers.
11. ABBEY LIBRARY OF SAINT GALL — ST. GALLEN, SWITZERLAND
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland. Abbey Library Saint Gall has been said to have 160,000 volumes, including manuscripts dating back to the 8th century. In 1983, the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization named the library a World Heritage site, calling it a “a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery”.
The library offers online access to many of its holdings through an electronic database though, as a general rule, pre-1900 books can only be read on-site. In Abbey Library of Saint Gall, books published before 1900 will be read in a special room.
12. AUSTRIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY — VIENNA, AUSTRIA
This library is the largest library in Austria, with more than 12 million items in its collections. The Austrian National Library is responsible for managing the collection of all publications that appear in Austria.
Works of special prominence include the world’s foremost Globe collection, rare books dating from the 4th century, a UNESCO Memory of the World Programme item (the Vienna Dioscurides, a 6th-century illuminated manuscript exploring medicine and healing), and a map collection that dates back to the 16th century.
The library complex includes four museums and multiple special collections and archives.
13. WREN LIBRARY
The Wren Library is the library of Trinity College in Cambridge. It was designed by Christopher Wren in 1676 and completed in 1695. The library contains many notable rare books and manuscripts, many bequeathed by past college members. It is credited as one of the first libraries purposefully constructed with large windows, which give readers comfortable light levels.
The library features some busts of college members along with exquisite carvings, beautiful gallery windows and a full-sized statue of Lord Byron. The Wren Library in Trinity College is one of the most famous libraries in the world and, of course, is on the list of the best libraries in the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of the time, all you need is a library card. Once you have this, you can access the library when you want.
No library in the world contains all the books because as each day passes, new books are published worldwide.
No. However, if you are a child, you would most likely not stay where adult books are.
Yes. However, if you need to get your hands on some peculiar manuscripts, you must visit these libraries.
No. They are beautiful and have rare books.
Libraries are essential in giving citizens access to knowledge. In digital times they are needed more than ever before. In times of the internet, everyone can visit a library without leaving home. It’s just a matter of opening a library website, and you can borrow an eBook and ask the librarian an online question.
Most importantly, however, libraries are the places where you can expect smart and clear answers to even the most difficult questions. These 13 best libraries in the world have made a name for themselves. Aren’t you curious to visit?