Binhai Library
Binhai Library

7 of the World's Most Amazing Libraries

They hold many treasures beyond books.

1. New York Public Library, New York. Founded in 1895, the world’s third-largest public library shows precious collections of over 53 million items to more than 18 million visitors per year.

2. Melk Monastery Library, Melk, Austria. This 18th century, baroque-styled library features stunning frescoes and guards a world-famous collection of musical and medieval manuscripts.

3. St. Catherine’s Monastery Library, St. Catherine, Egypt. Lying at the foot of Mount Sinai and dating back to the sixth century, this is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It preserves the second-largest collection of early manuscripts.

4. Rampur Raza Library, Rampur, India. Once part of a palace, this library looks after the oldest handwork pieces of Arabic calligraphy, including the seventh century A.D. Quran written on parchment in early Kufic script.

5. Tianjin Binhai Library, near Beijing. This futuristic five-level library, set in a 360,000-square-foot cultural center, features terraced bookshelves and holds 1.2 million volumes. One curiosity: many of the shelves are lined not with real books but simply with printed images of their spines.

6. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. The centerpiece here is the LaTrobe Reading Room, a soaring octagonal space with the capacity to accommodate more than 500 readers. Founded in 1854, the library houses superb chess and art collections and the folios of Captain James Cook.

7. The Library of the San Francisco Monastery, Lima, Peru. Built in the early 17th century, this is one of the oldest extant libraries in the Americas. Some of its more than 25,000 rare texts predate the country’s conquest by the Spanish.