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It is not easy being home all day, everyday and while we can access books online (see our article on online book resources) many of us will be missing that smell of library books and the calm gentle nature of our favourite library, not to mention the breath taking architecture that most libraries enjoy. But don’t be too despondent because we have put together a list of libraries from across the globe that you can visit anytime of the day and whenever you want without leaving the comfort of your home. Yes, virtual tours are the new trend and we want you to join in.
Vatican Library (Vatican City, Rome, Italy)
Like many research libraries, most of Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana’s collection is closed to the general public. The library is like a treasures chest, with its beautiful pans of impeccably decorated halls and endless rows of bookcases. If you want to explore the digital versions of some of the Vatican’s 80,000 manuscripts then click on DigiVatLib to read more.
Liyuan Library (Jiaojiehe, China)
The prize-winning design by architect Li Xiaodong blends seamlessly into its rural setting with its hundreds of locally sourced tree branches. YouTube videos will be your best chance of exploring Liyuan as parts of it were closed in 2017.
The main branch of the New York Public Library—a U.S. National Historic Landmark—is one of the most beloved buildings in NYC.
Bodleian Libraries (Oxford, England)
“The Bodleian is over 400 years old and the libraries hold over 12 million books.” If you want a virtual experience that feels like you are physically there then try the 360° tour then check out Digital.Bodleian. The homepage has new categories for exploration elegantly unfolding as you scroll down.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt)
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a massive complex of book and artefact collections and museums. The 360° view of the library gives you a sense of the way the building blends in with the existing city skyline earning it the Aga Khan Awardfor Architecture. Bibliotheca Alexandrina serves 18,000 people each day.
Library of Parliament (Ottawa, Canada)
This library is of such importance that appears on Canada’s ten-dollar banknote. As you go through the tour you will see the library’s Gothic archways, marble statues, and meticulous wood carvings.
Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)
This tour lets you explore the majestic architecture of the United States Library of Congress which is the largest library in the world.
Biblo Tøyen is unique in its visitors rule; no adults are allowed, it is for young people between the age of 10 and 15 only, filled with books and experiences. But adults can still see it via this four-minute video tour with the chance to see books and Maker spaces, funhouse mirrors, a wooden moose, and every conceivable type of cosy and quirky seating, from gondola lift cabins to a dentist’s chair.
Vasconcelos Library (Mexico City, Mexico)
Designed by Alberto Kalach, Mexico City’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos and its botanical gardens provide an urban oasis of native flora and a naturally lit human hive of knowledge.
VAC LIBRARY, of Hanoi, Vietnam is named after the Vietnamese words for garden (Vườn), pond (Ao), and cage (Chuồng). Its open-air design aims to teach its visitors, particularly children, about sustainability and urban farming. With ponds, jungle gyms, structure, and resident chickens, the VAC unites the best parts of reading rooms, public parks, and petting zoos to offer an urban library experience that is unique.