5 magnificent libraries that will inspire you

If knowledge is power, then books are fuel and libraries are… power stations?! Here are five awe-inspiring libraries that are guaranteed to get you positively charged. Whether you are studying in the UK or US, be sure to refuel at one of these man-made marvels!

New York Public Library – New York

New York Public Library – https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

Built from over 40,000 tonnes of marble, the New York Public Library is an impressive sight. In fact, when it opened in 1911, it was the largest marble building in the world.

And it truly was a power station – burning 20 tonnes of coal every day to make sure that library goers stay warm even in the chilly New York winter.

Over the years the library has curated around 53 million items, including rare first edition books, 300 million pages of historical newspapers and around 40,000 restaurant menus dating back to 1850!

A photograph of the interior of New York Public Library

Studying at INTO Drew University or INTO Hofstra? Why not visit the library the next time you’re in New York!

Once you’ve found an item you’re interested in, there’s plenty of space to study and observe the beautiful building surrounding you.

Fun fact: It’s actually safer, and easier, to handle old books without gloves. Clean, dry hands reduce the risk of accidentally causing damage.

Chetham’s Library – Manchester

A photograph of the exterior of Chetham's Library in Manchester
Chetham’s Library – cc-by-sa/2.0Anthony O’Neil

Founded in 1653, Chetham’s Library is the oldest free public library in the UK. The building itself is even older – built in 1421, it’s one of the most well-preserved medieval structures in England!

If you’re a student at INTO Manchester, this library is about a 25 minute walk from the INTO Centre, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

A photograph of some of the very old bookshelves inside Chetham's Library.

Experience a library like no other, surrounded by the history in the 100,000+ books lining the shelves. The unique atmosphere attracts students and scholars alike to attend guided tours offered throughout the year.

Fun fact: There’s a library of smells in France, called the Osmotheque. Here you’ll find a history of scents throughout the ages, including perfumes that are no longer sold.

Boston Public Library – Boston

An old photograph of the Boston Public Library building

The Boston Public Library, founded in 1848, was one of the first free public libraries in the US. Over the last 172 years it has added over 23 million items to its collection including rare first editions by Shakespeare, original music scores by Mozart and other original works dating back as early as the 10th century!

A photograph taken inside Boston Public Library, where many students are studying on long tables under green lamps

If you’re an INTO Suffolk University student, the Boston Public Library is a 30 minute walk from campus and has fantastic study spaces, including designated study rooms for a quieter learning environment.

Fun fact: It used to be required for librarians to learn Library Hand, a standardised style of handwriting, to reduced errors when reading hand-written index cards.

The Library of Congress – Washington, D.C.

A photograph of the Library of Congress building
The Library of Congress – cc-by-sa/2.0Josh (NCinDC)

Located on Capitol Hill, the Library of Congress is considered the national library of the US and the second largest library in the world. The library catalogues around 168 million items, adding 10,000 to this number every day.

With over 460 languages represented, around half of its holdings are written in a language other than English. The library aims to collect materials from every country in the world by purchasing, receiving gifts and trading.

A photograph of the interior of the Library of Congress, with benches arranged in a circle around a central podium

Need to catch up on the news? The Library of Congress holds the world’s largest newspaper collection, with issues dating back as far as 1659!

Or maybe you fancy a lighter read. The library is also home to Old King Cole, which was the smallest book in the world when printed in 1985. The book measures about 1 millimetre square, or about the size of a full stop.

Fun fact: Authors in the UK receive payment annually, based on how many times their books are borrowed from UK libraries.

The British Library – London

The British Library – cc-by-sa/2.0oatsy40

Last up on our list is the British Library, a must-see if you’re a student at INTO City or INTO London. With around 170 million items spread across 750km of shelving, it’s the largest library in the world.

And this number is continually growing, to the extent that 8km of shelving has to be added every year! This is partly due to the fact that the British Library must receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, by law.

The British Library Interior – cc-by-sa/4.0Mike Peel

To give an idea of the scale of this collection, if you were to watch just the library’s digital video collection in its entirety, you’d be watching for 3.5 years!

Its collections include almost every language, in the form of newspapers, books, patents, maps, journals and stamps. The library is also home to rare artefacts, such as the Magna Carta and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook.

If reading this has inspired you, you may like to read our blog on how to decide where to study abroad.

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