The United Nations iLibrary is the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and viewing source for digital content created by the United Nations. It provides librarians, information specialists, scholars, students, policy makers, influencers and the general public with a single digital destination for seamlessly accessing publications, journals, data, and series published by the United Nations Secretariat, and its funds and programs.
The Library of Congress Online Catalog contains approximately 14 million records representing books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, cartographic materials, music, sound recordings, and visual materials. The Catalog also displays searching aids for users, such as cross-references and scope notes. Items identified through this catalog can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” NSF is vital because we support basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See and one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was established in 1475, but existed in early forms roughly since the beginning of the Catholic Church. The library has added to its collection over the years primarily through bequests and gifts. The Vatican Library currently holds over 1.1 million books, 75,000 manuscripts, and over 8,500 incunabula. The library owns the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible and many other important medieval works.
The Library of Alexandria was the greatest library in antiquity, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The new Library of Alexandria is a memorial to that library, and an attempt at rebuilding. The Library cost $220 million to build and was completed in 2002. The Library doubles as a cultural center, and contains a planetarium, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries and exhibition space, museums, a conference center, and niche libraries for children, young adults, and the blind. Currently the Library contains over 500,000 books, but there is shelf space for over 8 million, leaving plenty of room for addition.
SOLO is the catalogue of the major collections of the libraries of the University of Oxford. It covers: the physical holdings of the majority of libraries within the University of Oxford including the Bodleian Libraries and most College and Departmental Libraries The University’s collections of e-books, e-journals and databases Materials which the Bodleian Libraries received via electronic legal deposit (eLD) Research papers and theses deposited in the Oxford Research Archive (ORA).
Princeton University in New Jersey is one of the best academic programs found in the world. Today, they have more than 10 libraries that create some of the finest resources in academia. Popular names that you have the likely heard before include the Mendel Music Library, Furth Plasma Physics Library, East Asian Library, and the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Stanford University has a diverse set of library facilities including the Math and Statistics Library, the Herbert Hoover Archives, and the wildly popular Archive of Recorded Sound. As a university that frequently publishes, one of the benefits of their facilities for students is Stanford’s extensive research support staff.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is a premiere library facility in many subjects, and it has a special focus on military document collections. Along with standard digitalized university library access, students are also allowed to use special collections. For example, the Sylvanus Thayer Collection is an archive found exclusively in West Point libraries.
Yale University is a university well-known for its publications. This solid academic research is fully supported by its library system, and students reap the benefits. While most major research universities boast about 25 branches or less, there are over 50 special libraries and collections at Yale. Facilities of notoriety include the Babylonian Collection, Astronomy Library, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, and the Benjamin Franklin Collection.
Penn State Library Collections
Penn State’s first library collection consisted of approximately 1,500 volumes in agriculture and the sciences and was housed in Old Main, along with most other college facilities. The nineteenth-century library was considered an auxiliary to study and by 1888 was open six hours a day. By the turn of the century the library had grown to nearly 20,000 volumes. The overcrowding finally was relieved by construction of the Carnegie Library, a gift of steel magnate and college trustee Andrew Carnegie
Cambridge University iDiscover
Use iDiscover to search the University’s libraries print and online collections using a single search. Find books, ebooks, videos, theses, open access content and more. Log in to manage your loans, requests, fines and saved search results.
Cambridge University Library’s collection
Over the course of six centuries the University Library’s collection have grown from a few dozen volumes on a handful of subjects into an extraordinary accumulation of several million books, maps, manuscripts and journals, augmented by an ever-increasing range of electronic resources.
The Federal Research Division
The Federal Research Division provides customized research and analytical services on domestic and international subjects to agencies of the United States Government, the District of Columbia, and authorized Federal contractors on a cost-recovery basis.
Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK
The Bodleian Library is the library of the University of Oxford. It was established in 1602, making it one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The Library has over 11 million items, and many, many items of historical import, including four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Shakespeare’s First Folio (from 1623.) The Library consists of multiple buildings, perhaps the most visually interesting of which is Radcliffe Camera, built in 1737-1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It’s the earliest circular library in England, and has appeared in multiple films, including “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “The Saint”, “The Red Violin”, and “The Golden Compass”.
Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT
The Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the largest building in the world that has the express purpose of preserving rare books and manuscripts. The library’s holdings are incredible and include special collections of numerous important writers including Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, and Joseph Conrad. The central shelving area of Beinecke is a beautiful structure with glass walls and soft lighting that protect the works from direct light. The library is accessible to the public and it’s exhibition hall displays many of the library’s rare works, including an original Gutenberg Bible, one of only 48 copies.
Georgetown University Library
Georgetown University offers students a chance to be a part of an award-winning university library system. Students, researchers, faculty and alumni are the focus at each of the local and international branches of Georgetown libraries. Adding to previous goals, this library wants to be known around the world for being the “icon of transformation” by 2020.
University of Pennsylvania Libraries
The University of Pennsylvania takes pride in their online catalog called Franklin, and uses it to facilitate all that their library system has to offer. Much more than a single branch, there are several specific collections disbursed into 10 different university libraries. Locations of notoriety include the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library, and the Dental Medicine Library.
University of Michigan Ann-Arbor Library
The University of Michigan has several prominent libraries that are associated with their system including the Gerald R. Ford Library, Transportation Research Institute Library, and the Bentley Historical Library. Staff from this library system are also associated with initiatives co-authored by Harvard such as the 2010 Digital Library Project.
Brigham Young University Library
Brigham Young University has a long history of bringing top-rated services to their library patrons. In addition, this university system library operates award-winning facilities including their Motion Picture Archive and the genealogy libraries. Altogether, this university contains over 15 branches at campuses in Utah and Nevada
Lehigh University Library
Lehigh University offers facilities at two major libraries on their campus including the Linderman Library and the Fairchild-Martindale Library. Like major universities throughout the United States, most of their periodicals are in digital format and they have extensive computer research capabilities. One interesting note is that the Federal Depository government document collection is housed at this campus.
Diné College Library
Diné College is located in Tsaile, Arizona and has library branches in Crownpoint and Shiprock. Their Shiprock main branch is a stunning work of art that reflects their architecture leanings and Navajo historic background. They also have satellite branches in Tuba City, Kayenta, Chinle, Window Rock, and Ganado to meet their students’ needs.
Columbia University Libraries
Columbia University is a top-ranking institution, and their libraries reflect this standard. Students can enjoy digitalized access to important resources and eclectic presentations as well. For example, Butler Library employs a graphic novel librarian. Popular libraries housed at Columbia University include the Teachers College Library, Columbia Center for Oral History, Journalism Library, and the Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
Cornell University Libraries
Cornell University houses one of the largest library collections in the world. Currently, they are the recipients of several grants that make this one of the most technologically advanced library systems. Along with several library branches that include standards such as health sciences, engineering and the humanities, they also have unique libraries. Odd libraries that you only find en masse at Cornell are the Hotel Library, Africana Library, Ornithology Library and The Geneva Experiment Library.
Duke University Libraries
Duke University has several awards under their belt, and offers 24-hour service at two of their branches on campus. They also have collections of notoriety including the Gothic Reading Room and displays such as the Botanical Treasures from Duke’s Hidden Library. Duke libraries with a notable reputation are the Pearse Marine Lab Memorial Library, the Bostock Library, and the David Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Emory University Libraries
Emory University has a state-of-the-art digitized library system with a number of branches on campus. Popular branches include the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Goizueta Business Library, Robert W. Woodruff Library, and the Oxford College Library. Other notable points of interest are the Pitts Theology Library, Emory Women Writers Resource Project, and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.
Boston College Libraries
Boston College leads the nation in education, and also has a library system that students adore. In addition to all the basics, special libraries at this campus include the Irish Music Center and the Irish Music Archives at the John J. Burns Library. Other notable institutions are the Theology and Ministry Library and the Weston Observatory Houses.
The University of Chicago Library
University of Chicago libraries are often featured in news articles due to the popular Chicago Jazz Archives. For students, they can access information in special collections through the five main campus library branches including the D’Angelo Law Library, Eckhart, Regenstein, Mansueto, and SSA. This library system is actively engaged in popular culture and has recently hosted events focused on zines. They also have digitized many popular rare works such as Walt Whitman’s, “The Bible as Poetry.”
Baylor University Library
Baylor University allows students to access its facilities 24-hours a day, and provides them with a fully a digitized computer accessible system. This focus on technology includes Baylor’s exclusive archive collections such as the Institute for Oral History. Other unique things about this library system are the extensive JFK archives, the Southern Baptist Annuals Collection, the Crouch Fine Arts Library’s Collection of American Popular Sheet Music, and the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project found in the Royce-Darden Collection.
Rhode Island School of Design Library
The Rhode Island School of Design centralizes its media and research-related resources at the Fleet Library. Students attending this school will have access to art-related academic resources such as the Ruth Laxson Artist Book Archive and the RISD Visual Resources Library. With over 12,000 pieces of rare printed media, the Special Collections section of the Fleet Library also has ephemera such as the Jack Lenor Larsen Collection of Textile Swatches and the Stanley Moss Collection of Pop-up Books.
Middlebury College Library
Middlebury College has a strong library system with four main branches. Students can enjoy the same benefits found at major universities such as access to computers and a digitized collection of library resources. In addition to the basic services, there are also five special collections including the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection and the Julian W. Abernethy Collection of American Literature.
Johns Hopkins University Libraries
ohns Hopkins University is one of the top medical research institutions in the world, and the library system at their campus reflects this history. While their system is centered around the Sheridan Libraries, they also have facilities that are focused on music, earth sciences, and international affairs.
Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England
The Reading Room at the British Museum is found in the center of the Great Court of the British Museum. The structure has a domed roof, and the ceiling is made of a kind of papier-mÃ¢chÃ©. For much of the Room’s history, access was only granted to registered researches, and during this period many notable figures studied at the Library, including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Ghandi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells. The Library’s collection was moved to the new British Library in 2000 and the Reading Room now houses an information center and a curated collection of books relating to history, art, travel and other subjects relevant to the collection’s of the British Museum. Right now, and since 2006, the Reading Room has been housing a temporary exhibition centered around China’s famous Terracotta Army
Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada
The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada is a Canadian landmark, so much so that it adorns the back of the Canadian ten dollar bill. The building was inspired by the British Museum Reading Room. The walls of the Library are supported by 16 flying buttresses, and the main reading room has a vaulted ceiling complementing the walls and stacks which featured white pine paneling with beautifully detailed carvings of flowers, masks, textures, and mythical creatures. The collection of the Library consists of over 600,000 items, curated by a staff of 300. Access to the facility is generally restricted to Canadian parliamentary business, but tours are often made available.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto, Canada
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book library is the largest rare book collection in Canada. The library is affiliated with the University of Toronto. The collection includes numerous notable works, including Newton’s Principia (1687), Shakespeare’s First Folio, the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), and a Babylonian cueniform tablet that dates to 1789 BC. The library also contains a large and notable collection donated by a man named Robert S. Kenny, who was a Communist Party of Canada member. The collection is made up of over 25,000 items dealing with labor movements worldwide, with a particular emphasis on Canada.
Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland and holds about 160,000 volumes. The library was founded by Saint Othmar, who founded the Abbey of St. Gall in 719. This is one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world, and holds manuscripts from as far back as the 8th century. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization named the library a World Heritage site in 1983, calling it a “a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery”. Many of the rare manuscripts that the library holds can be accessed through this website, and the public is welcome to use the library, although pre-1900 books must be read on site.
Library of the Benedictine Monastery, Admont, Austria
The Library of the Benedictine Monastery is the largest monastery library in the world. The Library holds 70,000 volumes, including 1,400 manuscripts and 900 incunables. Some of the manuscripts were gifted by the Monastery’s founder Archbishop Gebhard, who founded the Monastery in 1074. The ceiling of the Library is made of seven cupolas, all decorated with elaborate frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte that display the progression of human knowledge. The design of the Library is heavily influenced by the Enlightenment.
The Morgan Library & Museum, NY, NY, USA
The Morgan Library & Museum was formed in 1906 to hold the private collection of banking magnate J.P. Morgan. The library housed his collection of manuscripts, printed books, prints, and drawings. The library has many illumninated manuscripts, incunabula, and many original manuscripts, including works by Sir Walter Scott and de Balzac. There are also notable drawings of many notable artists, including Leonardo, Raphael, Picasso, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. Other interestings holdings of the Morgan Library include scraps of paper that Bob Dylan used to write down “Blowin’ in the Wind”, concept drawings for Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry’s The Little Prince, and a Charles Dickens manuscript of A Christmas Carol.
Jay Walker’s Private Library
Jay Walker is an American inventor and entrepreneur who has used his wealth to develop a notable private library. Walker has dubbed his Library “The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination.” The Library is located in his Connecticut home and contains more than 50,000 books including many early works and museum worthy items. The architecture is a multi-level design inspired by the surreal works of M.C. Escher. Wired called the library “the most amazing library in the world” and Walker has discussed the library in a TED talk. Unfortunately, the library is not open to the public, but Walker has been known to host notable public figures.
Trinity College Library (“The Long Room”), Dublin, Ireland
The Trinity College Library in Dublin is the largest library in Dublin, and fulfills many of the same functions for Ireland that the Library of Congress fulfills for the United States. The Library actually consists of four separate buildings, but we are concerned here with the old Trinity College Library, built in 1732. The “Long Room” in the Old Library is one of Ireland’s biggest tourist draws and houses the Book of Kells (a beautiful Gospel book created by Celtic monks roughly around 800)
Danish Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish Royal Library is the national library of Denmark and was founded in 1648 by King Frederik III. The library holds all works that have been printed in Denmark since the 17th century, and nearly every Danish book ever written resides in the library, back to the first Danish book that was printed in 1482. The Danish Royal Library is the largest library in the Nordic countries. Many significant works are held here, including the correspondence of Hans Christian Anderson, historical maps of the Polar Region, and the ArnamagnÃ¦an Manuscript Collection, named for the Icelandic scholar Arnas MagnÃ¦us who spent much of his life building a collection of manuscripts from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden until his death in 1730.
Melk Monastery Library, Melk, Austria
The Melk Abbey was founded in 1089, and shortly thereafter a school was founded which led to the library’s formation in the 12th century. The Melk Library quickly became one of the largest manuscript holders in the world, and was also majorly involved in the production of manuscripts. The Library features a high ceiling adorned with beautiful frescos painted by Paul Troger. Today the Library is still renowned for its collection of medieval manuscripts and also has a prominent collection of musical manuscripts.
Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic
The Strahov Monastery Library, located in Prague, is contained within the Strahov Monastery that was founded in 1149. The main portions of the library are the Theological Hall, built in 1679, and the Philosopical Hall completed in 1779. The monastery was occupied by the communist government starting in 1950, and was transformed into the Museum of National Literature. When the Communist regime fell out of power in 1989 the monastery and Library were returned to the Premonstratesian order, who set about restoring the Library, leading to the impressive structure that can be seen today. The Library holds more than 110,000 volumes, over 1200 of which are incunabula.
Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah’s Salt Lake City Public Library’s main library is a unique building built in 2003 that features a beautiful five story curved glass wall that ends in a 20,000 sq ft skylight, following the architect’s commitment to focusing on natural lighting. The top of the building is also in use with a rooftop garden planted with trees and flowers. The Library holds more than 500,000 books, and has a large collection of zines.
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
The State Library of Victoria was founded in 1854, and now holds over 1.5 million books, and has special collections dealing with chess, the arts, the diaries of Melbourne’s founders, and the folios of Captain James Cook. The centerpiece of the library is the LaTrobe Reading Room, a soaring octagonal space that has room for over 1 million books and 500 researchers or readers. At the time of completion, the LaTrobe Reading Room was the largest dome in the world.
Chateau de Chantilly Library, Chantilly, France
Another library on our list with a Gutenberg bible, the Chateau de Chantilly library is part of a French estate that also includes one of France’s most important art galleries. The main part of the estate (Grand Chateau) was built in 1528-1531 with the other attached building (Petit Chateu) being built in 1560. The Grand Chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution and later entirely rebuilt from 1875-1881. The library of the estate contains over 1300 manuscripts and 12,500 printed works, including the aforementioned Gutenberg Bible (one of more than 700 incunabula), and roughly 200 medieval manuscripts. The library is often open to the public for guided tours.
Wiblingen Monastery Library, Ulm, Germany
The Wiblingen Monastery was founded in 1093, and remodeled in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The Library is notable to art historians because of it’s rich ornamentation and beautiful fresco ceiling. Before entering the Library visitors see the inscription “In quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae” which means “In which are stored all treasures of knowledge and science”, a perfect quote for any library. The Library imagery is full of knowledge related imagery, both Pagan and Christian. The Library is open to the public and guided tours are available.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland
The George Peabody Library is the research library of Johns Hopkins University, and was originally the Peabody Institute Library, an institution that was meant to be a cultural center for Baltimore. The Library was a part of the Institute from 1878 until 1967 when it became owned by the city of Baltimore, eventually passing to Johns Hopkins in 1982 where it now holds the University’s special collections. Many of the collection’s titles date to the 19th century and the library has one of the world’s foremost collections of Don Quixote editions. The building was described by the first Peabody provost as a “cathedral of books.” The interior features a 61 foot high atrium, a beautiful black and white marble floor, and many balconies and golden columns. The library is open to browsers.
Phillips Exeter Academy Library, Exeter, New Hampshire
The Phillips Exeter Academy Library is the largest secondary school library in the world. This is one of the most impressive libraries on our list, in a way, since it’s merely a part of a prep school (albeit one of the most wealthy prep schools in the world.) The architect of the Library was Louis Kahn, and the the structure has won numerous architectural awards, including a Twenty-five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects (given to no more than one building a year). The Library was commemorated on a US Postal Service stamp in 2005 as one of the Postal Services twelve Masterworks of Modern American Architecture.
Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
The Herzog August Library was founded in 1572 by a German Duke, and by the 17th century it was one of the largest libraries in Europe. The Library’s collection is over 900,000 books, more than a third of which were printed from the 15th to the 18th century. The Library is internationally known for its Middle Ages and Early modern Europe collection.
JosÃ© Vasconcelos Library, Mexico City, Mexico
The JosÃ© Vasconcelos Library, located in Mexico City, unfortunately had some stumbling blocks in its construction that led to the library being closed for 22 months from 2007 until 2008, but the building is phenomenal, and I have to agree with former Mexican president Vicente Fox who called it one of the most advanced constructions of the 21st century. The library cost nearly $100 million to build, and was was the largest infrastructure investment for the Fox administration that spanned 2000-2006. The shelving of the library is visually impressive and complemented by several incredible sculptures including one by artist Gabriel Orozco called Ballena that is a painted genuine whale skeleton.
Rijkmuseum Library, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Rijkmuseum Library is part of the Dutch National Museum located in Amsterdam. The library is focused on art history and holds over 350,000 volumes. Interestingly, the online catalog of the Rijkmuseum Library has on display over 140,000 monographs, 20,000 art sale catalogs, and 3,200 magazines. The library is open to the publicm and although books and magazines can’t be checked out, they can be viewed in the reading room.
Stockholm Public Library, Stockholm, Sweden
The Stockholm Public Library is one of Stockholm’s most notable buildings. The library was opened in 1928 and designed by Gunnar Asplund, one of Sweden’s most important modern architects. The interior of the main part of the building is a rotunda, giving visitors a visually pleasing view of many of the library’s shelves along the rotunda walls. The Stockholm Public Library holds more than 2 million volumes and over 2.4 million mixed media items.
The National Library of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
The National Library of Singapore is located a 16 story tall building, recently built in 2005. The library has over 200,000 books and also has a performing arts center with a 615 seat theater. The building is adorned with multiple gardens that feature views of the city of Singapore.
University of Coimbra General Library, Coimbra, Portugal
The University of Coimbra General Library has been in operation since the early 16th century. Inventories for the library exist from the years 1513 and 1532, and show that the library at the time held more than 120 manuscripts. The The Library was definitely established in 1537, and today holds over a million books, with a separate building for pre-19th century books. This is the Biblioteca Joanina, and its architecture is done in majestic Baroque style. The Library is open every day to the public.
National Library, Minsk, Belarus
One of the most distinctive libraries on our list, the National Library of Belarus is shaped like a Rhombicuboctahedron (here’s what a rhombicuboctahedron is, just in case you’re not a mathematician.) The building is 22 stories tall, and was opened in 2006, although the library has been in operation since 1922. The Library is the copyright library of Belarus, and is an attraction in Minsk, featuring a public observation deck and public concerts on its lawn. The Library holds over 8 million items, and has the third largest collection of Russian works in the world.