Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Literary Cathedrals

As much as I became a library science student because of my interest in technology and the modern possibilities for library institutions and ideology, there's also something about the grandeur of classical libraries that is utterly captivating. Over the years libraries have been described as "temples" of knowledge, and while many writers criticize this model and the intermediary role that it creates for libraries as "priests" between patrons ("pilgrims") and The Information, sometimes the majesty of these old literary cathedrals is downright magical.

Here's a link to a recent article with photos from one writer's compilation of the 25 Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World.

And from the list here are a few of my favorites:

The Trinity College Library, aka “The Long Room,” Dublin, Ireland:

The "mirror" effect is absolutely stunning. This is the sort of place you could wander through for hours and hours and still not be sure you'd seen it all. Also, I love the ladder as a book retrieval system--maybe not very practical (or safe, so near to that balcony?) but oh how picturesque!

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD:

This room could be a set from the movie Inception; all those layers and layers of books seem to almost defy gravity. And I love it when libraries show their collections off like this, letting the books be the visible works of art they so clearly are.

Suzzallo Library’s Graduate Reading Room at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA:

Hogwarts, anyone? I would love to have a library like this at my school. While I can (and have) study just about anywhere, a room like this gives the task of studying an allure we don't usually associate with all-nighters and caffeine overdoses and trying to write an entire term paper in a single twenty-four hour period.

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