Colleges and Universities are renowned for being academic havens. And libraries have become a symbol of learning. So it is no surprise that some of the best libraries in the country are also tied to academic institutions. These six libraries aren’t just a great place to study, they also offer unique architecture, rare collections, and fantastic on-campus experiences.
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Yale University)
Completed in 1963, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library was designed by Gordon Bunshaft. Bunshaft designed the building out of Vermont Woodbury granite and marble and the building sits as the dominate figure on the Hewitt Quadrangle of Yale University.
The Beinecke Library is one of the largest buildings in both the United States and the world that is used exclusively for rare books and manuscripts. The library’s iconic central tower offers up to 180,000 volumes, while the underground book stacks takes on nearly 500,000 volumes.
So, what treasures does the Beinecke Library hold? Well, the Melk copy of the Gutenberg Bible. There are only 21 known completed copies of Gutenberg’s bible, and Yale University owns one. The Gutenberg Bible was a gift from Edward S. Harkness in 1926. In addition to the Gutenberg Bible, which is on permanent display, the library also boasts ancient papyri, medieval manuscripts, and archived person papers from modern writers. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library also has exibitions that exist on a year round rotational basis.
George Peabody Library (Johns Hopkins University)
Considered the “cathedral of books,” the library designed by 19th century architect Edmund Lind is world renowned for its beautiful interior. Opening in 1878 after a 300,000 dollar donation from George Peabody, the library is housed as part of the Peabody Institute.
Although, widely known for its dramatic and brilliant design, many are unaware that the library hasn’t always belonged to Johns Hopkins University. The library remained a part of the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland until 1966, when the city of Baltimore took ownership of the library’s collection. It wasn’t until 1982, that Johns Hopkins University acquired the majestic library and its 300,000 works.
The library’s main focus is on 19th century texts, however, the library also holds interests in other centuries and disciplines. Peabody’s desire for the library was for it to be “well furnished in every department of knowledge and of the most approved literature.”
Geisel Library (University of California, San Diego)
The Geisel Library is named after Theodore Geisel and his wife, Audrey, for their contributions to the community and the nation’s literacy. Giesel, of course, is more famously known from his pen name, Dr. Seuss.
The Geisel Library is located on the campus of of the University of California San Diego campus and is a prime example of 20th century architecture. The building was designed by William L. Pereira & Associates.
The library contains over 7 million volumes that aim to support the educational and research objectives of the University of California. Unique to the location, the library also has a Dr. Seuss Collection which contains original drawings, sketches, and manuscript drafts. There are nearly 8,500 items of memorabilia and documentation in the collection. The collection aims to celebrate and document the life of Dr. Seuss.
Klarchek Information Commons (Loyola University Chicago)
Loyola University of Chicago boasts breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area. And there might not be any better spot than the Klarcheck Information Commons of the university’s Cudahy Memorial Library.
The Elizabeth .M. Cudahy Memorial Library contains over 900,000 volumes and nearly 4,000 periodical subscriptions. The library also is home to the university’s fine arts, humanities, science and social sciences collections. The government document depository collections also resides inside the Cudahy Memorial Library. Beyond the physical collection, the library also boats a robust online database with hundreds of research resources, thousands of e-books, and more than 35,000 journal titles.
In 2008, the Cudahy Memorial Library added the Richard J. Klarcheck Information Commons. The Klarcheck Commons serves as an academic research hub and social space for its students. Although it is relatively young, it has built a reputation for its glass walls and views of the lake and campus.
Uris Library (Cornell University)
Along with the John M. Olin Library, The Harold D. Uris Library is the university’s primary source of research in both the social sciences and humanities. The Uris Library is actually Cornell’s oldest library and sits atop the campus’s famous Libe Slope. Together, both the Olin and Uris libraries contain nearly 2 million volumes.
Uris Library is a popular destination on campus because of it’s famous reading room. And the study spaces in Uris are open 24 hours a day during most of the academic year. The Andrew Dickson White Library room is a “library within a library” in Uris. It is named after the university’s first president and holds White’s personal collection of nearly 30,000 books.
Michigan Law Library (University of Michigan)
Michigan’s law library is known for its Gothic architecture and offers a worldwide collection of primary material. The main reading room boasts a 50-foot vaulted cathedral style ceiling and the walls are adorned with stained-glass windows. Addling flavor to the feel of the historic library are oak wainscoting and cork floors.
The library has a vast and comprehensive collection of material covering law disciplines relating to Anglo-American, foreign, comparative, and international law. There is also research material relating to legislation, court reports, and administrative information from all U.S. jurisdictions. The Law Library is also a depository for documents of the European Union. In 1957, it became the first such depository to be included in an American university.
The library also contains some unique collections relating to Native Americas, French customs, and pre-soviet Russia. The Law Library of the University of Michigan also boasts the complete microfiche set of 19th and 20th Century Legal Treatises.