Virtual Tours of Historic Libraries

New York Public Library

Enjoy the fascinating story of the New York Public Library through this virtual tour from Architectural Digest! LHRTers will remember this tour from a couple of years ago. It’s a must see for all library history enthusiasts. For a history of the library’s early years, please see Sara Edwards Obenauf’s A Study in Patience and Fortitude: A Brief History of the New York Public Library’s Early Decades which you can find as you scroll through our Library Chronicles section.

Bodleian Libraries

Librarian Vanessa Corrick takes you on a 360 degree tour of Oxford’s Library. On their web site, a slide show synced with a timeline will recount even more of the venerable collection’s history–a presentation model that might serve as a model for other libraries’ history pages.

Library of Congress

Sponsored by the American Association of Retired People.

Vatican Library

From CBS News: “No one is allowed to borrow from the Vatican Library, except the Pope. And no wonder: the archive holds some of the oldest and most precious works of art and treasure known to man. Morley Safer gets to see the best of the best.” Official site

Library of Alexandria

“2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Award recipient: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt” Not the original Library of course, which was destroyed in a fire, but a reconstructed library that is developing a huge supercomputing platform. Catch this animation which explains what happened to the original.

José María Lafragua Historical Library, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

The José María Lafragua Historical Library of Mexico can only be described as magnificent! The origins of this library extend back to the 1500s. You can get a glimpse of their in-person exhibits through the tour, and stop by their virtual exhibits through their Online Resources page.

Stone Library, Adams National Historic Park

The Stone Library was constructed in 1870 for the books of the Adams family, a family that included two American Presidents. Henry Adams composed his multi-volume history of the United States using the spaces and resources here. Collections include a Biblical concordance from the 1500s. Find out more on their official site.

Carlos Casa Guillermo Tovar de Teresa Library, Mexico

The gorgeous library of a famous Mexican artist and historian. Guillermo Tovar de Teresa was a prodigy, appointed to be artistic advisor to the Mexican government at the age of 12. Find out more about his life and house…

Mafra Palace Library, Portugal

Spacious and breathtaking, the library makes up the heart of this former home for Portugal’s royalty. Constructed in the 1700s, its shelves showcase one of the world’s largest Enlightenment collections. It is maintained in part by bats! Find out exactly how these furry custodians preserve books on Atlas Obscura and Smithsonian.

Strahov Library, Czech Republic

Absolutely Stunning! The Baroque designs of this library can only be described in terms like those. The Strahov Library played an essential role in the Czech national awakening. Read about the special “compilation wheel” for maintaining the library, and the awesome frescoes that portray how people relate to books…