Top 10 Amazing Libraries

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Nigella Lawson's Private Library
Nigella Lawson's Private Library

To mark the beginning of National Storytelling Week, AnOther compile their selection of the top 10 most incredible libraries from across the globe.

As the weather becomes increasingly cold, and spring feels like a distant dream, there is nothing more appealing than settling down in a cosy corner with a good book. This week it is National Storytelling Week, so it seemed altogether appropriate that we celebrate not just the staggering amount of stories our world has to offer, but the beautifully lavish, unique and occasionally futuristic buildings that house them.

Here, AnOther have compiled their list of the Top 10 Most Amazing Libraries from across the globe; from modern day interactive marvels, to fantastical Disney style creations bedecked in white and gold, and the private reading nests of the rich, famous and inexplicably indulgent.

1. Nigella Lawson's Private Library, London
Up until the unfolding of recent events, the voluptuous domestic goddess Nigella Lawson housed an overflowing private library in her Belgravia home. Holding over 6000 cookery books in floor to ceiling shelves – including her personal favourite Anna del Conte's Entertaining all'Italiana – later additions to her collection are piled up around Lawson's desk, where she is pictured here, perhaps plotting a future undoubtedly delicious recipe.

2. Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Reminiscent of the beautiful technicolour library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the library at Admont Abbey in Austria is a thing of wonder. The 70 metre long room holds over 70,000 volumes, overlooked by pastel painted murals and ornately carved, gold trimmed walls. Built in 1776 it is the largest monastic library in the world.

3. George Peabody Library, Baltimore
Something of a success story, George Peabody worked his way up from modest family life to become one of the wealthiest, and most generous men of the past century. Funding numerous projects, museums and libraries in both the UK and America throughout the early 1800s, Peabody built this particular library as an outstanding gift to Baltimore for their ‘kindness and hospitality’. A man applauded for his own kindness worldwide, Peabody was the first American to be interred in Westminster Abbey with full honours.

4. The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination, Conetticut
Inspired by the designs of artist M.C. Escher, this fascinating space is the private library of celebrated inventor and entrepreneur Jay Walker. Over 20,000 volumes and artefacts celebrating the limitless creativity of the human mind are enclosed in the multi-tiered room, surrounded by floating platforms and illuminating glass panels.

5. Diane von Furstenberg's Private Library, California 
Legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg describes her Cloudwalk home as her 'salon, sanctuary and archive'. Bathed in bright light, the shelves are home to an expansive collection of fashion related tomes, with four wheeled ladders making them easily accessible. Art Deco chairs and a plush sofa enforce Furstenbergs theory that a library 'should be filled with light and comfortable furniture'.

6. The Austrian National Library, Vienna
The largest library in Austria, this enormous building is the epitome of grandeur. It houses some 7.4 million items within its extensive archives, collections and museums, including rare literary works, fine art and an impressive selection of historical globes.

7. Karl Lagerfeld's Private Library, Paris
Home to over 60,000 tomes – making it one of the largest private collections in the world  – the library at Chanel maestro Karl Lagerfeld's Parisian aparment is a modern marvel. Split level steel bookcases are bursting with art and fashion based literature, stacked horizontally and accessible by wheeled ladders and a minimalistic spiral staircase.

8. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale
Designed by prize winning architect Gordon Bunshaft, the Yale University Library celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Holding over 500,000 volumes and millions of manuscripts, the library is the largest of its kind in the world.

9. Public Library of Cincinatti
Sadly no longer existent, this incredible space served as the Public Library of Cincinatti for over 80 years. Originally designed as an opera house, some 200,000 books were encased in five tiers of cast iron alcoves, overlooking an impressive marble floored grand hall. The space – which also included a fiction alcove, art and newspaper rooms – eventually became too small to house the ever growing collection, and was demolished after its contents were moved to a more spacious home.

10. Raza Library, India
Although it looks like something from a fairy tale, this beautiful building is home to the Raza Library in Rampur, India. Housing an expansive collection of rare manuscripts, hand written palm leaves and miniature paintings. It was created by Nawab Faizullah Khan, who ruled the area in the late 1700s. The collection is now owned and managed by the Government of India.

Text by Rhiannon Wastell