The 2013 Library Hall of Fame

So, let’s talk about libraries. Which I know is also the title of my blog, but still. I love them- I love this library, my library back home, the Evansville libraries, etc.  So, I jumped at the opportunity to look at other libraries, and see how they stacked up next to the ones I know. There are many great libraries out there, and I want to know  more about them. So, because it’s National Library Week, I thought I would take a look at some great (and sometimes strange) libraries near and far. Be they big or small, fancy or simple, they are all terrific libraries that want to spread the power of books, knowledge, and telling annoying kids to be quiet.

     George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,Maryland

George Peabody Library Stacks [Michael Dersin Photography]

This East Coast library is considered by many to be the most beautiful library in North America, and I can see why. It was founded in 1860 by philanthropist George Peabody, who wanted to create a large library that had all knowledge and literature available in it for everyone. It also happens to be amazingly beautiful. Designed by architect Edmund G. Lind, it has multiple spiraling staircases, art covering the walls, statues, multiple levels, and even, wow, a throne room. How anyone manages to actually get reading done in this giant library museum place, I don’t know. There are manuscripts, pieces of 19th century literature, and whole histories of the romance languages, history of the US, and other fancy topics that philanthropists in 1860 were really into. If you happen to find yourself in Baltimore, check it out, and let me know how awesome it is ASAP!

 Paul Barret Jr. Library at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee

This library is at the prestigious Rhodes College, and everything about this library screams “hallowed halls and academia”. While the library was built in 2005, it looks like an ancient church, matching the Gothic architecture of the rest of the university. It’s built on rubber and limestone, with two towers, a cloister, and carved symbols all over the building. It houses over 500,000 books, as well as a full viewing movie theater. Somehow thinking about all the old fashioned looking tiles and steeples, along with a full theater playing the newest Michael Bay movie or something, is really funny to me. It’s just such an odd combination, but it seems like it works. I’d think it must be very hard to concentrate on doing your homework in there with so much to look at, but I bet it’s still fun!


          Trinity College Libraryin Dublin, Ireland
Alright, I’m cheating here, because I wanted to stick with libraries in the USA, but this is one I have actually been to, and I really want to talk about it. Trinity College is one of the most famous colleges in the world, having existed since 1592, and is still one of the most prestigious colleges around. But we aren’t here to talk about the college. We are here to talk about its library! You know when people in movies go to ancient tomes of knowledge, where all of humanity’s writings are hidden from the prying eyes of the unworthy? That’s what this place is like. First of all, it houses the Book of Kells,  a 9th century illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels in Latin, which is considered one of Ireland’s greatest treasures. Each day, the library will turn a page of the book, allowing visitors to look at a different amazing page. If you follow the link above, you can get to the digital Book and even get an iPad app for using it! See how wonderful libraries are, in making great stuff available?  There is also an extremely large section where books are stacked on shelf after shelf, one on top of another, with a curved ceiling and the smell of old books that can linger for hours. As far as libraries go, this one, while not enormous or technological, is one of my favorite libraries of those I have had the pleasure to visit.
 

As we have seen, libraries come in all shapes and sizes, and have all kinds of purposes and histories. These are just three, and if they sound interesting, try to look up some more! And if you ever end up at any of these libraries, let me know what you think, and what the old book smell is like! Just remember to turn in your books on time, and show some respect.

CP
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