Beautiful Libraries

by John McGrath on March 20, 2009

A little Friday fantasia: in September of 2007 Curious Expeditions collected dozens of pictures of stunning old libraries in a post titled Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries, which was just sent to me by my old pal Magnolia. They’re incredible.

I’ve spent my entire life surrounded either by clean-lined modernism or an almost equally spare New England aesthetic, and it’s startling to be reminded that baroque and rococo (barococo?) confections like this were ever built, let alone on this scale and in such profusion. Likewise, information is now so ubiquitous, and incorporeal, and cheap, it’s jolting to think of a time when it was rare, and heavy, and expensive, and so justified the building of palaces like this to contain it.

Curious Expeditions says they’ll leave it to someone else to post a list of beautiful modern libraries, like Louis Kahn’s library at Exeter. If anyone knows of one, please let us know in the comments.

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