Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, suits of armor, and precious antiques no, we’re not talking about cathedrals or museums. Rather, those elements all belong to America’s most stunning college libraries. Universities from New York to Seattle have dedicated lavish sums to constructing temples to higher learning for the benefit of their students and faculty.
Midterms and final exams may be the most dreaded part of the college experience, but students at these schools can take comfort knowing that they’re hitting the books in an architectural masterpiece. Let find out These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America.
- 1 These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America
- 1.1 Butler Library at Columbia University
- 1.2 Cook Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan
- 1.3 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale
- 1.4 Anne Bremer Memorial Library at San Francisco Art Institute
- 1.5 McLure Education Library at the University of Alabama
- 1.6 The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago
- 1.7 Firestone Library at Princeton University
- 1.8 The Geisel Library at the University of California: San Diego
- 1.9 The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at University of Virginia
- 1.10 William R. Perkins Library at Duke University
- 1.11 Powell Library at UCLA
These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America
Butler Library at Columbia University
New York City comes with its fair share of distractions, but with a library as gorgeous as Butler, it’s no wonder Columbia students ace their exams. Designed by James Gambell Rogers, the classical building has plenty of cozy nooks in addition to a great hall lined with mezzanines.
Cook Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan
Built in 1931, the Cook Legal Research Library looks like something straight out of. Harry Potter. Stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and Medieval inspired chandeliers decorate the massive Hogwarts like reading room. That is once of These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale
Yalies have architect Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to thank for their unique midcentury library. Bunshaft ingeniously constructed the walls using Vermont marble, which filters light and protects the library’s rare and delicate tomes.
Anne Bremer Memorial Library at San Francisco Art Institute
The Anne Bremer Memorial Library houses some one of a kind WPA era murals by Victor Arnautoff, a disciple of Diego Rivera who painted one of the frescos in San Francisco’s Coit Tower. Students can admire murals by the Mexican master in the nearby Diego Rivera Gallery.
McLure Education Library at the University of Alabama
One of Alabama’s most historic buildings, the McLure Education Library was named in 1975 in honor of John Rankin McLure, the Dean of the College of Education, according to the university.
The building was once used as a post office and cafeteria, and later transformed into a dorm for male students after World War II. It was remodeled in 1954 into the stunning library it is today. That is once of These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America.
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago
The second library at University of Chicago on our list, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library opened in 2011 and is the university’s newest library. The 61,719 square foot building is an architectural wonder: the library is primarily underground, with a glass dome structure on top.
Firestone Library at Princeton University
Firestone is the main library on the Princeton University campus. It first opened in 1948 and was the first large university library constructed after World War II in America. The building was renovated again in 1988, and now has over 70 miles of bookshelves. Fun fact per the library website: Firestone also has more books per enrolled student than any other American university.
The Geisel Library at the University of California: San Diego
Named in honor of Audrey and Theodor Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss, the six story, stepped tower opened in 1970. The library is home to the Dr. Seuss Collection, featuring approximately 8,500 items from Geisel’s work, including sketches, notebooks, videotapes, and other memorabilia. That is once of These Most Wonderful College Libraries in America.
The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at University of Virginia
This gorgeous library at UVA is a history buff’s dream: the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collection library holds more than 13 million manuscripts, 325,000 rare books, and 250,000 photographs with a major focus on American history and literature.
William R. Perkins Library at Duke University
First known as the General Library, the William R. Perkins Library has gone through numerous expansions since it was first constructed in 1930. Now, it’s the sevent largest private university library in the United States, housing thousands of rare books, documents, and manuscripts.
Powell Library at UCLA
Powell is the main college library at UCLA. First opened in 1929, the building is known for its Italian Romanesque architecture, with a number of mosaics on the outside of the library. Fun fact about Powell: Ray Bradbury reportedly wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the library’s basement.