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.

ms.s March 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

Trinity College Dublin’s Library — so beautiful, it is said that the the Jedi Archives from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was ripped off from it.

reesetee March 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

John–tried to post this yesterday but it somehow didn’t “take”–here’s a nice list of modern library designs:

bookhling July 11, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I don't think information today is as ubiquitous as most people think. Or should I say that many people today doesn't seem to be able to discern between information and knowledge?

Whatever the case, beautiful libraries make my heart beat faster…

scorbynw July 12, 2009 at 10:51 pm

My mother likes to think that the library at my school, Deerfield Academy, is a study in 1960s aesthetic. I just think it looks dated, and this is coming from somebody who loves vintage retro anything.

Pointus Cranus July 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I guess this does not count as a "modern library", but thought you might enjoy it as a unique way to store books (one of my faves):

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