As you check out some of our digital materials for the time being, but find yourself missing the in-person experience of visiting a library, below are some libraries from all over the world that you virtually walk through online, which is as close as we can get for now.
Bodleian Libraries (Oxford, England) This library has some cameos in the Harry Potter franchise and is over 400 years old with over 12 million books. If you want a virtual experience that feels like you’re really there, check out this 360° tour from librarian Vanessa Corrick. There is also some short aerial footage of the libraries here.
Vasconcelos Library (Mexico City, Mexico) Built in 2006, this library is very much a sleek, modern building. It is naturally lit and contains several urban botanical gardens. There is even a giant realistic whale sculpture that greets you in the central atrium.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt) You may be familiar with the story of the ancient fire of the Library of Alexandria, but the most recent library is a massive complex of book and artifact collections, and museums. Clicking around a 360° view of the library gives you a sense of its sheer size. Its clever combination of glass (to allow natural lighting) and a gently sloping granite wall (showcasing languages and alphabets from around the world) helped the building to blend in with the existing city skyline.
Vatican Library (Vatican City, Rome, Italy) Ornate architecture, priceless artwork and manuscripts—the Vatican Library has something for everyone. You can also check out the DigiVatLib to explore digital versions of some of the Vatican’s 80,000 manuscripts.
Liyuan Library (Jiaojiehe, China) If you are curious about some non-urban libraries this one blends seamlessly into its rural setting with its ingenious exterior of hundreds of locally sourced tree branches. Liyuan’s interior utilizes natural lighting and warm wooden fixtures for a delightfully escapist reading room. Interestingly, Beijing shut down Liyuan in 2017 after pirated works were discovered on its shelves, so YouTube videos may be your best bet for exploring this architectural marvel at any time.
Biblo Tøyen (Oslo, Norway) This library poses an age constraint: no grown-ups allowed! According to the Visit Oslo, there are books and Maker spaces, of course, but also fun house mirrors, a wooden moose, and every conceivable type of cozy and quirky seating, from gondola lift cabins to a dentist’s chair. You’ll quickly see why Time for Kids named Biblo Tøyen one of its “World’s Coolest Places” of 2019.