‘Temples of Books’ Is an Ode to the Grandeur and Democratic Ideals of Public Libraries

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Seinäjoki Library, Seinäjoki, Finland. All images courtesy of Gestalten, shared with permission

In the U.S., libraries have increasingly been attacked by the far right as part of a movement to impose unjust book bans and protest diversity and inclusion efforts. Although the public institutions are sites of contention at the moment, they’ve historically functioned as beacons of knowledge and democracy, spaces that are free and open to all.

A recent book published by Gestalten returns to the fundamental beauty and communal nature of libraries, traveling the globe to visit some of the most alluring places. Written by Marianne Julia Strauss, Temples of Books: Magnificent Libraries Around the World celebrates the stunning architecture and quietude associated with wandering the stacks. From the exuberant Manueline style of Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro to the modern concrete-and-wood structure of Trinity College Library in Dublin, the volume encompasses a vast range of aesthetics and eras across more than 40 physical and virtual locations on six continents.

Positioning these spaces as intellectual havens, Temples of Books highlights their wide array of offerings, including botanic gardens, archival repositories, and of course, room to read. “As an institution that can curate knowledge, scrutinize the status quo, and encourage education, the library is more important today than ever,” a statement says. “This responsibility is only growing as the freedom to publish on all manner of channels increases.”

Temples of Books is available now on Bookshop. (via Feature Shoot)


Cuypersbibliotheek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Library of Muyinga, Muyinga, Burundi

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland

Bibliothèque du Sénat, Paris, France

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