Skip to navigationSkip to content

The world’s most architecturally stunning national libraries, in photos

AP Photo/Michel Euler
The Richelieu-Louvois Library in Paris, part of the National Library of France.
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Around the world, governments found national libraries in order to archive its citizens’ most important writings, art and music. Less concerned with lending out books than a typical public or university library, national libraries tell the story of a country through rare publications and primary documents, like photographs, maps, audio recordings and letters.

But it’s not just what they contain that matters. National libraries themselves are a reflection of the country they serve; their architecture can offer visions of both the nation’s history and its future. Here’s a selection of the world’s most interesting national libraries:

National Library of China

Library of Congress, United States

Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Austria

Biblioteca Nacional de Chile

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Biblioteca Nacional, Brazil

National Library of South Africa

National Library, Singapore

National Library of Ireland

National Library of Greece

King Fahd National Library, Saudi Arabia

National Diet Library, Japan

Deutsche National Bibliothek, Germany

Russian State Library

National Library of Scotland

Kungliga Biblioteket, Sweden

British Library

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.