As physical containers for a society’s shared knowledge, historical documents, and academic musings, libraries have always shouldered an enormous responsibility. But beyond merely serving as archives, the best libraries also inspire. Housed in architecturally ambitious structures, they are places that celebrate human achievement with awesome environments. Indeed, there are obvious parallels between an author and an architect—both strive for greatness, with the objective of producing works that will stand the test of time.
In today’s digital age, some may question whether libraries are still relevant. As the more recently constructed examples in the following slide show demonstrate, the answer among scholars and architects is an emphatic yes. Libraries are evolving from establishments with a primary focus on printed matter to dynamic public spaces that prize all forms of media and foster community engagement. And they remain among the world’s most cherished cultural institutions.