If you’re a lover of books and literature, you probably already visit libraries when you travel. Whether it’s stopping off to do a little research or get an internet connection at a local library, or to visit a historically or culturally significant site, sleuthing out a library in advance of your travels is worth your time.
And if you’re going to be in one destination or an extended period of time, you may be able to get a temporary library card giving you access to books and services for the time you’re there. For a book lover, that’s a big travel bonus. (If you’re looking for reading ideas, you can find some of my recommendations here.)
I asked a few traveling friends to share some of their favorite ideas about libraries.
The Long Room, Dublin: when Jedi knowledge meets monastic Ireland
When I think of libraries one that is top of mind is Trinity College and the Book of Kells. When Marta visited, however, she saw a comparison between Trinity College’s Long Room and Star Wars‘ Jedi Temple archive. Do you see the similarity?
The Long Room is the most imposing and beautiful part of the vast Trinity College Library, an impressive collection of over 3 million manuscripts and books hosted in the grounds of Dublinâs oldest university. Trinity college dates back to 1592 when it was funded by charter of Queen Elisabeth, but the oldest library buildings we see now only date back to 1712, when construction started following the designs of Thomas Burgh.Â
Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Ontario â Photo Essay
Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto is home to the two courts and the Law Society. It also houses the largest private law library in Canada, the Great Library, with over 100,000 volumes. Mary captured the grandeur of the building in photos.
I recently had an opportunity to tour the inside of Osgoode Hall and although it wasnât a requirement or even necessary, I couldnât help but whisper as I walked through the halls. You are after all in a place of law! Another thing was that I felt really small, especially in the libraryâ¦with its high ornate ceilings and walls filled with books.
Underwhelmed in Alexandria, Egypt
Although he was underwhelmed, in general, with Alexandria, Lance was impressed with the collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (that’s his photo above).
We LOVED the area dedicated to the late President Anwar Sadat. It included a number of items from Sadatâs life, including a letter from then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter praising him for his role in bringing peace to relations with Israel as well as the clothes he was wearing when he was assassinated. Being American and woefully ignorant of Egyptian history, seeing this room (especially in the aftermath of the January 25 revolution) helped bring context to the political struggles of the country.
Getting Booked at New Yorkâs Library Hotel
The Library Hotel in New York City combines two of my favorite things – books and a luxury stay – in an enticing environment. I’ve put this on my to-stay list.
Lance liked it too (that’s his photo above) and says:
One of the unusual aspects of the hotel is its number system. The entire hotel is laid out on the Dewey Decimal System. Each of the floors and all of the rooms have a theme based on the Dewey system. Our room was the Middle Eastern Language room and featured Islamic art (one of our favorites).
As for me, my favorite library in the New York Public Library with Patience and Fortitude (the two stone lions out front) to welcome you. You’ve likely seen the library in movies (Ghostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Sex and the City, to name just a few), but you should get there to see it in person.
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