Libraries are a place of wisdom, wonder and often, mystery.
Ever since I was young I enjoyed visiting the library. I would borrow as many books as my arms would allow. (Or rather, as many as Mum would allow). Novels about dragons, guides on bird watching, photography books featuring flowers. I also went through a cloud research phase and an astronomy fascination. University changed my borrowing trends as I sort out Shakespeare, George Orwell, Virgil and world cinema volumes.
There is something exciting about stepping into a foreign library.
Some of the libraries I mention below I visited intentionally but most I happened to stumble upon either while on holiday, at work, or while wandering. I hope to one day visit all of the world’s most beautiful libraries!
The State Library Victoria – Melbourne, Australia
The State Library Victoria is a beautiful site and a must-see when visiting Melbourne. The library is open to the public which is great because you have all the time you need to explore. It also means the library is quite busy with people wanting to study and others wishing to wander. But that’s ok. I enjoyed the Ned Kelly exhibition while I was there.
The British Library – London, United Kingdom
The British Library is great for people watching. Not great if you are actually looking for a seat as it’s so popular! I spotted two women working on their taxes, a man on a laptop writing code, people turning the pages of weathered newspapers, children reading picture books about cats. There’s also a great Rare Books & Music Reading Room located on the First Floor. I found original Beethoven sheet music, ancient Bibles and Beetles manuscripts. The library also offers a cafe beside an impressive glass book display. Definitely one of the best libraries in London!
The Library of Congress – Washington DC, USA
I ran through this stunning library one a summer morning when I was visiting DC. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and the oldest federal cultural institution on the United States. The library is free to enter and there are short guided tours that run constantly throughout the day. You need to join one of the tours in order to gain access to where this shot was taken. Absolutely magnificent!
The National Art Library, London, United Kingdom
The National Library is a hidden gem located inside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I was actually looking for signs to the exit when I came across the doors to this beautiful library. The library holds an extensive reference collection of literature on the fine and decorative arts. Definitely worth a look when visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The DAR Library – Washington DC, USA
The DAR Library was actually my office during a night shoot in Washington DC. I was in absolute awe the whole time and my surroundings made up for the hard wooden backed chair I sat on all night.
The library is located inside the Daughters of the Revolution Museum and holds historical manuscripts and publications. The whole place felt very elegant and important.
A library to add to my list of beautiful libraries to visit throughout the world is the LA Public Library. I am currently reading a fascinating non fiction novel about the LA Public Library written by Susan Orlean. The Library Book is an account of the 1986 fire that devastated the Los Angeles Central Library and a homage to the libraries around the world. I am half way through the book and can’t wait to finish the story!
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear where your favourite library is!