Academic Libraries for Your Travel Bucket List
Plan a trip to one of these scholastic destinations.
Academic libraries serve scholars’ needs worldwide and are also highly worth your time. Many are candidates for library lovers’ bucket lists. Check with these libraries before visiting to know what’s available in person. Many collections are now available online.
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The Library of Trinity College. Dublin is home to this library, the largest in Ireland. It dates back to 1592 and has more than 6 million items in its collections. Irish publishers are required under Irish copyright laws to provide a copy of every book they publish to this library. Trinity Library is a revered international research library, and the building is well worth visiting. The stunning Long Room, built in the early 1700s, is 65 meters long with a gorgeous arched ceiling lined with sculptural marble busts of great writers and philosophers. Collections include the Brian Boru Harp, an Irish national symbol, and the Book of Kells.
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Yale University is home to this library, the largest building in the world devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts. Collections include ancient papyri, documents from Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, an original Gutenberg Bible, and holdings from D.H. Lawrence and Sinclair Lewis. The building was designed to be a cathedral dedicated to these rarities.
Bodleian Library. Constructed in 1602, Bodleian was part of Britain’s Oxford University and now comprises 27 libraries in the Oxford system. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, Bodleian has more than 13 million items in its collections, including copies of the Magna Carta, Shakespeare folios, and manuscripts from Percy Bysshe Shelley and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the Bodleian is the Radcliffe Camera, which was built in the 1700s and now houses the History Faculty Library. The building is iconic and featured in several movies, including The Golden Compass.
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Bizzell Memorial Library. Bizzell is a grand dame of a building at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. The building is in the Cherokee Gothic style and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Among its holdings is the William Bennett Bizzell Bible Collection, comprised of culturally significant editions of the Bible. The History of Science Collections has first editions of Darwin’s published works and other rare books and publications.
General Library of the University of Coimbra. This 500-year-old library is located in Portugal and contains more than a million historical items in its collections. There are two buildings, the Biblioteca Joanina and the New Building. The former holds only books published before 1800, while the latter (built-in 1962) is home to the bulk of the collections. The Biblioteca Joanina is a popular stop for visitors who love Baroque architecture.