E-readers may be convenient, but there’s nothing like roaming the shelves of a beautiful library and curling up with your haul to help you escape from the world. Here are some of the most spectacular libraries in the country where you’ll definitely want to linger for hours.
1. The Library of Congress - Washington D.C.
Libraries just don't get more dazzling than this. The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is the largest library in the world and is features architectural details that would be at home in any palace or cathedral. It is spread over three buildings on Capitol Hill, but visitors tend to gravitate towards the breathtaking Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building.
2. The Boston Public Library (Central) - Boston, Massachusetts
Opened in 1854, this was the first free public library in America. It’s lost none of its grandeur over the years, with a breathtaking reading room, a lush central courtyard complete with fountains and stone arches and rooms adorned with towering frescoes.
3. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library - New Haven, Connecticut
This dramatic library is where Yale University keeps its rates and most precious reading material. Students and researchers can peruse priceless literary treasures like The Gutenburg Bibles and Audubon’s Birds of America. The architecture dazzles with plenty of geometric features, bronze and glass.
4. The George Peabody Library - Baltimore, Maryland
The George Peabody Library in Baltimore was built in 1878 and is one of the most stunning public spaces in the city. Featuring striking tiles and beautiful spiral staircases, it frequently functions as a wedding venue for bibliophile couples.
5. The Redwood Library and Athenaeum - Newport, Rhode Island
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum is the oldest community library in America that still operates out of its original building. It has required a membership fee since its founding in 1747, but continues to be one of the most charming places to curl up with a good book in Rhode Island.
6. Salt Lake City Public Library, Main Branch - Salt Lake City, Utah
The Main Branch Building opened in 2003 and is one of the most dazzling modern libraries in the country. With over 240,000 square feet of space, five stories of books and public computers plus a coffee shop, deli, gift shop and auditorium, this is a library for the 21st century.
7. The Seattle Central Library - Seattle, Washington
Looking more like an iceberg than a library, this spectacular structure contains 11 floors and a "Books Spiral" that showcases the entire nonfiction collection in a continuous length. There's also a "Red Room" on the fourth floor that uses deep crimson and red lighting.
8. The New York Public Library - New York City, New York
This iconic library houses 15 million items and is perhaps best known for the lovely Rose Reading Room. The library has been the filming location for countless movie scenes and is famous for its Beaux-Arts architecture.
9. State Library of Iowa, Lax Library - Des Moines, Iowa
Located in the Capitol building in Des Moines, this gorgeous library offers 105,000 legal books covering all types of law. The collection is accessible to the general public and is partially housed in an intricately decorated Victorian grand reading hall.
10. The Arabian Library - Scottsdale, Arizona
This striking library in Scottsdale, Arizona first debuted in 2007. The architecture is inspired by the Arizona desert and the state’s distinctive slot canyons. Though the library may look like it’s constructed of wood from a distance, the exterior is actually made up of weather steel plates.
11. The Morgan Library and Museum - New York City, New York
This sumptuously decorated library is the former collection of famed financier J.P. Morgan. The library occupies half a city block and houses an amazing collection of rare books, artifacts and manuscripts.
12. The Geisel Library - San Diego, California
The Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego is a perfect example of brutalist architecture done right. The main building offers panoramic views of the campus and plenty of natural light for reading.
13. Phillips Exeter Academy Library - Exeter, New Hampshire
Phillips Exeter Academy is a boarding school with truly spectacular library. The second largest school library on Earth, this structure was designed in 1965 and is notable for its distinctive concrete and ring design.
14. The Fisher Fine Arts Library - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Fisher Fine Arts Library is located at the University of Pennsylvania and is notable for its bright red brick exterior. With an intricate mix of towers, chimneys and sky lights, the building looks a bit like a castle.
15. Harold Washington Library Center - Chicago, Illinois
This is the city of Chicago’s main library branch. The imposing red exterior is a curious blend of classical touches and postmodern design.
These libraries are truly works of art. If you’re looking for more beautiful spots across America, check out the
10 most photographed places across the country.
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