Book Havens: My Favorite Libraries from Around the World

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."

-- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Like any good book lover, I'm impossibly fond of libraries and few things are apt to enchant me more. I joke (kind of) that my future home simply must have a library all its own. And a turret. But I think I'd give even that up for a library. For a reader no other space truly conjures up the magic of the imagination than a library; it becomes a haven filled with one's passion for being swept away by a book, to a thousand worlds beyond the room's four walls. I bet you're starting to want a library of your own now, aren't you?

I've acquired a few favorites over time, and because I'm easily persuaded to share beautiful things...well, here are a few of them...

 

Highclere Castle; Hampshire, England {image via} If you think this one looks familiar, you must be a Downton Abbey fan. Highclere serves as the setting for the upstairs and exterior filming of the series. Part of the allure for the library now may be the visitor's flight of fancy; wouldn't you just be boiling with excitement to catch a glimpse of the Dowager Countess or the lord of the house?

Trinity College; Dublin, Ireland {image via} About as timeless as it is famous.

George Peabody Library; Baltimore, Maryland {image via} Perfectly exquisite, the Peabody at Johns Hopkins University can be rented out for weddings and parties. A bibliophile's dream!

Stuttgart City Library; Stuttgart, Germany {image via} While I typical like the old world feel of a library with an antiquated design, the modern media center at Stuttgart City Library is visually stunning, and I love that it presents a sort of metaphor for books having a presence in our future.

Admont Abbey; Admont, Austria {image via} On the opposite end of the spectrum, the library at tghe Admont monestary was built in 1776. I love the gilt detailing and the way the blue in the frescoes evokes the sky.

Kansas City Public Library; Kansas City, Missouri {image via} I'm so ashamed that in all my time as a Midwesterner I never did get to see this one in person. I've no idea what the inside looks like, but frankly it can't surpass its exterior.

El Escorial; San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain {image via} More astonishing frescoes, this time in Spain at a historical residence of the king. It feels like a museum of books.

And last but not least...

Beauty and the Beast; © Disney {image via} The one that started it all.