Most beautiful college libraries in the world, with a nomination of our own.



‎Today is the birthday of journalist and author H. Allen Smith, born on this date in 1907, who wrote, “The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists of Ten Best.”

The Book Haven is no exception, so naturally we were suckers for Flavorwire‘s list of “25 Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World”:

The college library, whether ornate or modern, digital or dusty, is in many ways the epicenter of the college experience — at least for some students. It is at once a shining emblem of vast, acquirable knowledge, a place for deep discussions and meetings of the mind, and of course, a big building full of books, which, as far as we’re concerned, is exciting enough. Colleges and universities are understandably quite proud of their libraries, which can be a selling point for prospective students and donating alumni alike, and they often become the most well-designed and beautifully adorned buildings on campus.


OK, this isn’t a Ten Best, but a 25 best.  It also cheats a bit – Oxford’s many colleges are treated separately, so it gets to hog a few extra places.  Cambridge claims awards for both St. John’s and Trinity; Oxford bags honors for Queen’s College, All Souls’, and the Bodleian. Commenter Ravi notes that 13 of the 25 libraries are in the U.S., and five in England – which hardly seems a global perspective, anyway.

But two of the top spots (#1 and #3) go to the Iberian peninsula, and libraries I’d never heard of:  the University of Coimbra General Library in Portugal and the University of Salamanca Library in Spain.  We can’t resist these photos.  We can’t resist half the photos in Flavorwire‘s collection.

Closer to home … Green Library

Among the comments: “Looks like the only criteria is a high ceiling,” grumbled  Kevin.  A commenter called “H” noted that “Many of the American ones look like dining halls.”  Jonathan Miller had an observation: “The most beautiful library is one filled with readers. Too many of these photographs are of empty libraries.”

California gets a few of the honors:  Doe Library at Berkeley gets a mention.  So does UCLA’s Powell Library  … but, but, but … may we make our own nomination? (One commenter, Maggie, noted the same omission).

Stanford’s Green Library is splendid, but then I’m prejudiced.  I’ve spent more hours in its nooks and crannies than any other library on the planet. I used to have fantasies of the “Big One” happening while I was buried in the stacks of West 7, leaving my body forever unrecoverable beneath the books. But perhaps I would have gotten in a few quiet reading hours in the meantime.

What a way to go!


One Response to “Most beautiful college libraries in the world, with a nomination of our own.”

  1. Paul Achitoff Says:

    On being in the library when the Big One comes….