Inside The World's Most Spectacular Libraries

From an ancient Moroccan building to a futuristic structure in Germany.
00 libraries
Inside The World’s Most Spectacular Libraries Newsweek

"Writing a novel—actually picking the words and filling in paragraphs—is a tremendous pain in the ass," writes Steve Hely in his novel How I Became a Famous Novelist. "Now that TV's so good and the Internet is an endless forest of distraction, it's damn near impossible… Somebody like Charles Dickens, for example, who had nothing better to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit."

Although tongue-in-cheek, Hely's sentiment rings true. It feels increasingly difficult to focus on a piece of reading or writing without wondering what's on your Twitter feed, or whether that hyped Netflix drama is really as good as people say it is. That's why, rather than becoming obsolete through new technology, libraries have become increasingly valuable, a safe haven from digital clamor with blissfully quiet, Dickensian study conditions.

But in America, the library is under threat. Trump's February budget cuts proposed the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and therefore virtually all federal library funding—even though the Institute only made up 0.006 percent of the federal budget in 2016.

Libraries aren't just a place to escape an ever more distracting world. They're also a place for people to access education and social services, especially people in marginalised communities. A 2016 poll from the Pew Research Centre found that 66 percent of people say the closing of their local public library would have a major impact on their community.

To honor the beleaguered library, we've collected some of the world's most spectacular examples of libraries around the world. From an exquisitely tiled, ancient building in Morocco, to vast, modern structures in Europe, the list is a reminder of the beautiful results of investment and dedication to the millenia-old institution.

We've also included examples of bibliophilic ingenuity—take the pop up beach libraries in France and the garbage collector's library in Turkey. Libraries remain a comforting haven in an ever-changing world, a place which betters people both on an individual and communal level. These are the some of the world's best examples.

The Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, U.K. The main research library of the University of Oxford is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The university first built a library in the 14th century, but by the 16th century it was in decline. David Silverman/Getty Images