• 1. Salt Lake City Public Library Salt Lake City (UT), USA

    With music playing on every floor, an art gallery, a firm no censorship policy on their computers with Internet access, and a cafe serving coffee and sandwiches, this is not the library I grew up getting shushed at.

  • 2. Strahov Theological Hall Prague, Czech Republic

    The ornately decorated library in the Strahov Monastery contains 18,000 religious texts, including many editions of the Bible in numerous languages. Photo: Rafael Ferreira

  • 3. Biblioteca España Medellin, Colombia

    Built on a hilltop in Santo Domingo an area that was heavily affected by violence and drug trafficking in the 1980s and 1990s Biblioteca España was built as part of an initiative to enhance urban development and to provide more opportunity to the citys poorest residents. Photo: danjeffayelles

  • 4. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library New Haven (CT), USA

    A gift from the Beinecke family to Yale University in 1963, this windowless building has walls made of translucent marble, specifically designed to preserve the rare books and manuscripts inside, including one of the 48 remaining Gutenberg Bibles. Photo: KAALpurush

  • 5. National Library of Belarus Minsk, Belarus

    The newly designed National Library of Belarus houses over 8 million items and has the only public observation deck in Minsk. Photo: Giancarlo Rosso

  • 6. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library Toronto (ON), Canada

    The University of Torontos Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has the largest collection of rare books and manuscripts available to the public in Canada, including an extensive collection of Lewis Carroll first editions, biographical material, and photography. Photo: Andrew Louis

  • 7. Seattle Central Library Seattle (WA), USA

    The Seattle Central Library was built in 2004 to be an inviting and functional public space. Its Book Spiral displays the librarys entire non-fiction collection in one continuously winding run, enabling library-goers to peruse the 4-level section without being interrupted by stairs. Photo: Stephen J. Friedman, MD

  • 8. Danish Royal Library Copenhagen, Denmark

    The Danish Royal Library was founded in 1648, and now holds nearly all known Danish works ever published. A new addition known as the Black Diamond was built in 1999, which houses a concert hall, exhibition spaces, two museums, and a roof terrace in addition to the library and reading rooms. Photo: G. Jörgenshaus