Ten Beautiful Libraries Around the World

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the abandoned Wal-Mart building that was turned into a library. I thought it was a really cool use of the building, and I loved that what was once a soulless commercial building was repurposed to become a community space where people could read and learn. Additionally, the new library was beautifully designed. The whole thing got me thinking about libraries, in general; there are some really stunning public libraries around the world! Some are centuries old and housed in exquisite gothic or colonial buildings, and others are monuments to modernity. Some take you back in time to a cozy antiquity with their frescoed walls and dark wood shelves reaching to the heavens, and others whisk you into the glorious future with their gleaming glass surfaces and innovative architecture. After scouring the internet and indulging in large quantities of international library porn, I bring you ten of the most beautiful libraries in the world!

We’ll start out this tour with some of the gorgeous old libraries of Europe, Canada, and South America, and finish up with some stunning American and European libraries!

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From Retail Store to Reading Space: Abandoned Wal-Mart Becomes a Library

I love the idea of re-purposing abandoned buildings, rejuvenating them, and imbuing them with new life and a new purpose. I think it’s wonderful to see an eyesore of a vacant building that had fallen into disrepair be restored and once again serve the community. My college town of Buffalo is doing this a lot right now, fixing up these great old industrial buildings and turning them into hotels, shops, and restaurants, supporting the city’s burgeoning tourism industry. (Buffalo really is a fantastic city, and I am so excited about all the development in the works.) However, the city of McAllen, Texas recently did something even more intriguing with one of it’s vacant buildings; it converted a former Wal-Mart into a public library!

Walmart library: before

Before renovation

At 124,500 square feet, the new McAllen Public Library is now the largest single-story library in the U.S. Can you imagine a library the size of two-and-a-half football fields?! I feel like this would be a great place to hold a Portlandia-style Adult Hide-and-Seek League. Anyone with me?

Walmart library

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National Bookmobile Day

Bookmobile in Japan

Bookmobile in Japan (click for source)

Today is the third annual National Bookmobile Day, as part of National Library Week!

Bookmobiles are basically mobile libraries that transport resources throughout their communities. They are totally in the spirit of this year’s National Library Week theme, “You belong @ your library.” Libraries are for everyone, but not everyone may be able to get to them. Solution? Put the library on wheels, so truly anyone can have access to library materials! Bookmobiles can travel to suburban and rural locations to serve children, disabled adults, people with health problems, the elderly, and those who do not have or can’t afford transportation to the library. Patrons can use bookmobiles to search the Web, get research assistance from a librarian, participate in resume workshops, and check out books and DVDs.

To celebrate these libraries-on-wheels, the American Library Association (ALA) asked libraries and library agencies to share what makes their bookmobiles so special by submitting videos to the “Why We Love Our Bookmobile” YouTube contest. You can head over to their YouTube channel to view the submissions, which are really fantastic! I’ve posted my favorites below 🙂 Continue reading

National Library Week

national library weekI’m a few days late with this (aren’t I always?), but National Library Week started Sunday, April 8! Through April 14, libraries across the country are celebrating… being awesome, I suppose. This year’s theme is “You belong @ your library,” to remind people that a library is a place where everyone belongs!

That’s really the great thing about libraries — that they are for anyone. Old, young, rich, poor, gay, straight, handsome, ugly, the library doesn’t care! It’s there for anyone who wants to learn, and that is really wonderful. I’ve had a library card since I was nine, and it has served me well the last 12 years! I’ve read dozens of fantastic books, done research for school assignments, and even looked at some great art in my public library. Continue reading