What's the nicest public library you've ever seen?
There are some really beautiful public libraries all over the place these days. Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Cardiff, Columbus OH, Rome GA, Bogota, Medellin, Vennesla, Norway and so many other places have built fabulous new libraries which are great "3rd places."
What great public libraries, big & small, have you seen?
Being a COMPLETE TOTAL dork, I stopped by the San Antonio library while visiting that city last year; needing to actually kill some time, I shopped at their volunteer store downstairs where for $1 a bought a book (they're all discards, but in good shape) I thought my mom might like, and she ended up raving about it. I've also visited the Salt Like City library which was quite nice.
I was amused to be at the new Seattle public library on the first rainy day it was open, and yes ... the roof leaked!
Oh yeah, besides being a dork, I'm also nerdy as hell.
R1 -- did you tour the Buenos Aires opera house, too?
The Old Chicago Public Library (now a cultural center)was pretty amazing:
As far as contemporary Public Libraries go, I was surprised at how well-done Jacksonville, FL's central library is. Beautifully designed and user-friendly.
Other cities where I lived, Chicago and Miami, have miserable central libraries. Harold Washington is like something Albert Speer would have designed for Disney. Miami is a neglected mess.
The Los Angeles Central Library is a pretty remarkable place, with its gilded central rotunda and its architectural nods to ancient Egypt, Byzantium, and Mediterranean Revival. Its modern extension with soaring glass and steel isn't bad either.
I realize the subject is the "nicest", but I simply have to note that, having spent most of my life in the midwest, there are literally hundreds of beautiful Carnegie libraries in small towns throughout the region - I have to tip my hat to Andrew C - who in trying to make amends for his business/societal sins, at least did something worthwhile and postive with his great wealth.
Did alot with installing pipe organs in churches too r26 (including one in Carnegie Hall??). I think over 1700 public libraries were built by Carnegie and about half are used today as libraries if I recall reading it somewhere correctly. Remarkably few have been torn down; often they were converted to other uses if the libraries outgrew their Carnegie buildings. I believe Wikipedia may have the statistics on just what is left and how they are used.
Anyway, my vote is for Stamford, Connecticut--nice New England library with fireplaces that work and rocking chairs. The Cleveland, Ohio public library is also a beautiful, well maintained library as well.
My stay in the Bay Area was miserable and one reason was that, for the first time in my life, I had no Carnegie Library near by.
Now I am back in LA and am back to being happy and surrounded by them.
the Free Library, despite being dangerous, is quite nice
Lots of great choices, but to focus on the second half of "big & small", this is the Beaux Arts public library in my town of just 5800 people (at the time of its construction, 1906-1913.) It was an act of philanthropy not from Carnegie but from a judge from another state who never lived here.
I got that one r31! And do you do much reading there as well?
r32 is grandpa in his Depends.
All the big city libraries are easy to name in this category. However, I've traveled by car a lot throughout New England, I like to stay off the highway. I love running across small town libraries. Of course the libraries are smaller but they were built with pride in a time when a library meant your small town had arrived. There are lots of beautiful ones. Especially in Connecticut. Ones like this.
There relative grandeur in the middle of a small town is a nice sight.