America's Most Beautiful Libraries

Jay Walker's Private Library

Jay Walker is a 52-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital , known for Priceline.com . He built his home specifically to include a library to house his enormous collection of classic books, historical artifacts, and movie memorabilia. The room is a whopping 3,600 square feet on three levels complete with telescope and chandelier from a James Bond movie.

Seattle's Central Library

The eleven- story glass and steel library was opened in 2004 as the star of the Seattle Public Library System. It can hold about 1.45 million books and houses 400 computers available to the public. One unique feature of the Central Library is the Book Spiral . The collection is a spiral of continuous shelves holding the library’s nonfiction books. It goes through four floors instead of breaking up the Dewey Decimal System Classification onto different floors.

George Peabody Library

In 1857, a philanthropist named George Peabody dedicated the Peabody Institute, including a public library, lecture series, music conservatory, and art collection, to the citizens of Baltimore. Today The Institute is a division of Johns Hopkins University. The library was designed by Baltimore Architect Edmund G. Lind and is renowned for its five tiers of cast-iron balconies in the Peabody Stack Room which rise to 61 feet off the floor.

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress was established in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill transferring the seat of government to Washington, DC. After British troops burned the library in 1814, Thomas Jefferson offered his personal collection of 6,487 books as a replacement. In 1886, Congress approved the building of a new library in the Italian Renaissance style. In 1897 it was opened to the public and hailed as “the largest, the costliest, and the safest” library in the world. Today the library holds a collection of over 144 million items with print materials in over 460 languages.

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