A few week ago, I got an e-mail from Holidu, a search engine for vacation homes, about a list they made of the best libraries to visit on holidays. Normally I don’t receive e-mails for my blog that are even slightly relevant (I can’t remember how many times I have told the same publisher that I don’t review thrillers), so I was happily surprised that this is actually something I’m interested in. If you look at my Literary Travels segment, you can find a lot of libraries I’ve visited during my travels, so I was also curious whether I would like their list.
First thing that struck me: they divide their list in modern and historical libraries and I love that. I like classical things but I’m also a big sucker for good modern architecture and modern libraries are often overlooked because we don’t associate their vibe with what we traditionally perceive as “bookish”.
Their list of modern libraries consist of the following ones:
- Central Library Oodi – Helsinki, Finland
I have never seen this library mentioned in any lists of nice libraries before, so I’m very glad Holidu apparently thought outside of the box! This library contains a 100.000 books in 17 languages and also has newspapers, movies and videogames (which is completely logic now that I think about it, but why haven’t I seen this in a library before?). Green detail: the building is very ecologically responsible.
- City library Am Mailänder Platz – Stuttgard, Germany
This library was designed by the Korean architect Eun Young Yi and contains 500.000 items.
- Wirtschaftsuniversität Library – Vienna, Austria
Can you call it a modern library if it has been built in 1898? You can if it burnt down in 2005 and was renovated by Zaha Hamid Architects. This library contains not only books and newspapers, but also has a large collection of e-books and e-journals.
- Royal Library – Copenhagen Denmark
When I visited Denmark in 2017 I went to this library as well. The outside is stunning (it is named “The Black Diamond” for a reason), and the inside is a beautiful mixture of modern architecture and more traditional design. It contains 200.000 items and also has space for concerts or plays to be performed
- University library – Warshaw, Poland
Yes please! You will not believe the beautiful garden that is on top of this library. I visited Warshaw a few months ago and where the inside of the library is kind of robust (but in a nice way), the top is absolutely lovely. It was definitely my favourite place in Poland and I can recommend sitting there with a book very much. The library itself contains 350.000 items so there’s enough to read.
The historical libraries contain these:
- John Rylands Library – Manchester, England
This neogothic library has many rare editions. The interior reminds one of a church and it contains 1,4 million items!
- Stiftsbibliothek Admont – Admont, Austria
This is the largest monastery library in the world. It is beautifully decorated and has a collection that contains 200.000 items.
- Sainte Geneviène library – Paris, France
When I did a tour of some Parisian libraries in 2017 this was one of my favourites as well. The woodwork is absolutely stunning and I loved that it was still in use by many people as a place to study, instead of just a monument as many other historical libraries are. Their collection not only contains 1,5 million books, but also 85.000 manuscripts and 15.000 journals.
- Wiblingen Monastery – Ulm, Germany
Even though this library only contains 9.000 books (when did I start thinking 9.000 books is not a lot?), it is a beautiful example of rococo architecture.
- Marciana Library – Venice, Italy
This library is especially important because of its rare collection. It has 622.804 collector’s items, 2.887 incunabels (very early printed books), 13.113 manuscripts and 24.069 hand-written texts from the 16th century. What a treat!