The Greatest Libraries in the World

Words by
Lee Cassanell

14th April 2022

‘Temples of Books’ is an opus for the ages.


Archives of knowledge and shrines to the written word, our fascination with libraries dates back to the Elgit and Ulgarit libraries of ancient Syria, through to the doomed Library of Alexandria and beyond. 


More than just a collection of books, libraries are “spaces of study, sources of inspiration” and “outstanding icons of architecture that represent the societies that built them.”


Local libaries may have closed down at a rate of knots over the last twenty years due to under funding and the rise of the internet, but many grand and unusual buildings and collections have survived the cull. 


Temples of Books is a “book about the beauty of books, a book for book lovers and those that believe in the power of ideals.” Authored by travel writer, Marianne Julia Strauss, it’s a 304 page journey around the world featuring “Portraits of some of the oldest, most beautiful, smallest and strangest libraries” ever built. 


According to Ms Strauss “The book reveals the extraordinary public and private collections, national and monastery libraries, repurposed engine sheds, and UNESCO-protected mud buildings from Mexico to Vietnam and Mauritania.”


Temples of Book is published by Gestalten: