National Library Week: Most Beautiful Libraries Around the World

PHOTO: This undated photo shows the Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego Campus.
Ben Lunsford/Wikimedia

In an effort to highlight the contributions of libraries and library workers, National Library Week kicks off April 14-20. Since its inception in 1958, it has been sponsored by the American Library Association every April . This year's theme is "Communities matter @ your library®."

While you visit your local library, here's a look at some of the most beautiful libraries around the world.

PHOTO: A general view of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC is shown in this undated file photo.
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Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Thanks to an act of Congress in 1800, the Library of Congress was intended to contain "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress - and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…," according to the legislation. The library opened to the public on November 1, 1897. Its collection boasts more than 155 million items ranging from "more than 35 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 68 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings," according to the library's official website.

PHOTO: A general view of the exterior of the New York Public Library on February 12, 2012 in New York City.
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New York Public Library, New York City

New York's Public Library - the Stephan A. Schwarzman building, considered the "main" branch, is one of the NYC's iconic buildings. Built over the site of the old Croton Reservoir, New York's first public library opened in 1911. The building was built using 530,000 cubic feet of marble. The library contains 15 million items including manuscripts from 1,200 languages and dialects, more than 350 cataloged works by George Sand and the earliest known copy of the "Nican Mopohua," according to the library's official website.

PHOTO: A view of the interior of the Salt Lake City Public Library is seen in this undated handout photo.
Courtesy Salt Lake City Public Library/BellaOra Studios
Salt Lake City Public Library

Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the Salt Lake City library's current modern building opened in 2003. The six-story building features a 300-seat auditorium and a multi-level reading area. Natural light infuses reading areas around the building. The library houses more than 500,000 books and other items.

PHOTO: This undated photo shows the Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego Campus.
Ben Lunsford/Wikimedia
Geisel Library, University of California: San Diego

Designed in the 1960s by William Pereira, the University of California's library geometrical building was renamed the Geisel Library - in honor of Audrey and Theodor Geisel (known as Dr. Seuss) in 1995. The university's art library is housed in the Geisel building and includes "more than half-a-million items including books, periodicals, and music scores, with a full range of reference tools and digital resources such as ARTstor (images) and the Database of Recorded American Music (streaming audio)," according to the library's website.

PHOTO: An exterior view of Seattle's new Central Library on May 19, 2004 in Seattle, Washington. The glass and steel structure was designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture of the Netherlands and Seattle-based LMN Architects and cost $165.5 mil
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Seattle Central Public Library

After going through a major facelift, Seattle's Central Public Library reopened as an 11-floor, 362,987-square-foot library featuring a "books spiral" that displays the entire nonfiction collection in a continuous run; a towering "living room" along Fifth Avenue that reaches 50 feet in height; and a distinctive diamond-shaped exterior skin of glass and steel," according to the library's website.

PHOTO: This October 9, 2009 image shows the library of the Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland during Belgium's King Albert and Queen Paola's official state visit to Ireland.
Benoit Doppagne/AFP/Getty Images
Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

The largest library in Ireland, Trinity College's library dates back to 1592. It houses 5 million items including journals, manuscripts, maps and music. Some of its special collections include Ussher Collection and Fagel Collection. The library also has the Book of Kells manuscript.

PHOTO: The richly decorated Abbey Library of the monastery St. Gallen, Switzerland was built between 1758 and 1767 and contains 2000 hand writings, 1635 incunable and almost 100,000 books.
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Abbey Library, St. Gallen, Switzerland

The oldest library in Switzerland, the Abbey Library is home to about 170,000 books and other materials. One of the unique features of the library is its collection of manuscripts from the Early Middle Ages until 1805.

Researchers Can Use the Library, But Only the Pope Can Borrow a Book
© Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Vatican Library, Vatican City

Vatican Library features more than 180,000 manuscripts (including 80,000 archival units), 1,600,000 printed books, more than 8,600 incunabula, more than 300,000 coins and medals, 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings and more than 150,000 photographs, according to the library's official website. However not everyone can check out the library's massive collection. The admission criteria is strict - researchers, scholars, teachers and graduate students.

Click here for photos of the Vatican Library

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