Libraries represent human's most successful attempt in distributing knowledge. In the modern age, these magnificent institutions have also developed into important social structures that facilitate not just the reading of books, but a meeting point of different people, different ideas, discussion and debate. Libraries are usually the epicenter of cultural activity in neighbourhood in which they are located. Here is a list of several of the best libraries in the world, ones that we wished we could spend whole days in, if only they were closer home.
New York Public Library, New York City, USA
The famous New York Public Library is awe inspiring in its layout, scope and size. It is the third largest library in North America, has over 50 million items in its collection. It consists of 87 libraries serving 3.5 million people. The Rose Main Reading Room is a treat for the eyes too. The Library special collections include the first Gutenberg Bible to come to America. It is one of the most recognizable libraries in the world due to its appearances in many Hollywood movies, and even a key setting in “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Ghostbusters”.
Reading Room at the British Museum, London, UK
The Reading Room at the British Museum is found in the center of the Great Court of the British Museum. It features a domed roof, with the ceiling made of a variety of papier-maché. For much of the Room’s history, access was only granted to registered researches, and during this period many notable figures studied at the Library, including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Gandhi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells. The Library’s collection was moved to the new British Library in 2000 and the Reading Room now houses an information center and a curated collection of books relating to history, art, travel and other subjects relevant to British Museum’s collections.
大英博物馆阅览室位于大英博物馆大中庭的中央，采用穹顶设计，其天花板由多种混凝纸制成。历史上，只有注册过的研究人员才能进入，其中不乏一些举世闻名的学者在此学习、研究，包括卡尔·马克思（Karl Marx）、奥斯卡·王尔德（Oscar Wilde）、莫罕达斯·甘地（Mahatma Gandhi）、拉迪亚德·吉卜林（Rudyard Kipling）、乔治·奥威尔（George Orwell）、马克·吐温（Mark Twain）、列宁（Lenin）、H·G·威尔斯（H. G. Wells）等名人。图书馆的藏书在千禧年整体搬迁至大英图书馆新馆，修葺后的阅览室转变为一座信息中心，馆藏主要是与大英博物馆内藏品相关的历史、艺术、旅游等精选书籍。
Library of Congress, Washington D.C., USA
The Library of Congress is effectively the national library of the United States and the oldest federal cultural institution in the US. The library consists of three different buildings and is the largest library in the world. The library is open to the public, but only members of congress and other important government officials may check out books. The library also serves an important function as the “library of last resort” in the US, ensuring the availability of certain items to various libraries around the United States. The holdings of the library are extremely impressive, they include - over 32 million books, more than 61 million manuscripts, a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a perfect vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible (one of only four in the world), over 1 million newspapers from the last three centuries, over 5 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music, and more than 14 million photos and prints.
The Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
The Library of Alexandria was the greatest library in antiquity, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The new rebuilt Library of Alexandria hopes to one day match the precedent set by its illustrious predecessor. The Library cost $220 million to build and was completed in 2002. The Library doubles as a cultural center, and contains a planetarium, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries and exhibition space, museums, a conference center, as well as libraries for children, young adults, and the blind. While the library contains space for over 8 million books, the library growing number of available titles currently stands at around 500,000.
epicenter: n. 中心
papier-mâché: n. 混凝纸；制型纸
antiquity: n. 古迹；文物
planetarium: n. 天文馆