Take a Virtual Tour of Some of the Most Stunning Libraries Around the World

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The interior of the NYPL
Credit: youkatan/Shutterstock

Silent, uniquely cozy and yet often vast in size, libraries are excellent places either to focus on work and study or to let your mind wander elsewhere. If, like me, you love visiting libraries, you’ll know that they’re often more than just a place to read books.

Great libraries are often located in buildings every bit as notable as the literature they hold. The setting and stories of library buildings often tell a tale all of their own. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get to a library right now. So instead, why not go on one of these virtual tours of some of the world’s most spectacular libraries. 

The Mansueto Library

Since opening in 2011, The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago has become known among architecture fans for the spectacular elliptical glass dome that covers its 180 seat reading room. It’s also remarkable for an automated book retrieval system that allows readers to access any book within the library within a few minutes. This 360-degree video tour enables you to look around this masterpiece of modern architecture at your leisure. 

The New York Public Library

The main branch of the New York Public Library, located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, is one of the world’s most impressive public libraries. Spanning two full blocks and clad in Vermont Marble, this library contains over 2.5 million books—making it one of the largest collections of the written word anywhere on the planet. This video tour, by Architectural Digest, offers a genuinely fascinating look at the history and symbolism behind this monumental public library building. 

The Seattle Public Library 

The Seattle Public Library system’s central library is a stunning example of futuristic architecture. Built around the concept of being a library for the digital age, the library’s floating interior platforms are surrounded by a metal and glass exterior that enwraps the building like a virtual net. This 360 tour is a great way to check out a building that feels more like a sci-fi film space station than a library. 

The Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library system is the world’s most extensive neighborhood library system. The city’s reference library on Yonge Street sits within this system and is the largest public reference library in Canada. Unimposing from the outside, the library’s naturally lit interior is vast and appears almost like a modern-day cathedral. This short 360 video tour is a great way to experience this library for yourself. Don’t miss the Sherlock Holmes room!

The Bodleian Library

Fans of the Harry Potter films will recognize the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. This ancient and incredibly storied library appears as Hogwarts library in the movies, and it’s easy to see why. With a history dating back to the 16th century, the Bodleian library looks like something straight out of J.K Rowling’s imagination. It’s also home to many rare books, including a first folio play written by William Shakespeare. This 360 video tour allows you to experience this unique building from your own home while being guided by Oxford librarian Vannessa Corrick.