After reading the post at Curious Expeditions about beautiful librarians – Librophiliac Love Letter – I would love to take an around the world trip that just focuses on libraries. Scrolling through the list, I have only been in two they mentioned, but those two left quite an impression on me.
1. Yale – Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT: I spent a summer working in New Haven and was lucky enough to visit this place. When you enter this big “box” of a building, you see that the center of the building holds a 6 story glass tower, in which some of the rare books and manuscripts are kept. Librarians are the only ones who may enter the glass tower, but you can stand outside it and gaze at the wealth of information kept safe within (including a Gutenberg Bible, although that is often on display). The walls of the building are what make it worth visiting, even if you aren’t a library fan. The panes are made of marble, about an inch and 1/4 thick and the sunlight filters through the marble so give the room some light and make the building glow inside without causing damage to the materials. (You can read more details here.) The photo of the library on the Curious Expeditions site gives you an idea of what the marble walls look like inside the building when it’s sunny out, but you can really only appreciate the beauty of the walls glowing when you stand inside the library.
2. Trinity College – The Old Library (aka the Long Room), Dublin, Ireland: Last summer, I spent a week and a half traipsing around Ireland with my husband and two of our best friends. It is one of the highlights of my life, and on of my favorite memories of the trip was our visit to Trinity College. We went to see the Book of Kells, which is okay. (Seen it, no need to ever see it again.) But after you go through the Kells exhibit, you are spit out into the library. I literally had my breath taken away by the beauty of the room. I spent a couple minutes just standing in the doorway, gazing at the room and trying to remember to breathe. Even now, 8 months later, I can’t think of a man-made structure that comes close in my mind. Like Beinecke, it holds rare books and manuscripts, so the stacks are closed off with stanchions (like each row is a private members only club); you cannot get too close. But it was enough for me to just be in that room and soak in the beauty and the idea of who might have walked the long room and what knowledge and secrets might be contained. It’s such a gorgeous room, I felt like anything magical could happen there, whether it’s a ghost walking the hall to find a way to put it’s soul to rest, or Hermione needing to reference an ancient magical book lying quietly on the shelves. I’d love to say that when I die, I’d love for my ashes to be scattered in this library, but obviously this would not be helpful for the archivists working to maintain the rare books.
Looking at the pictures of the other libraries in that list makes me want to hit the road for a tour around the world to see all these grand dedications to the pursuit and protection of knowledge. I also never knew how many of these gorgeous places were near me, and I must make an effort to get out and go soak them in.