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Inside the Most Beautiful Libraries in the UK

Britain is the home of some of the most beautiful libraries in the world. From The British Library in London to the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, access to huge public libraries is possible from anywhere in the UK. The Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964 ensures that every local authority provides a comprehensive library service within every community. Since 1964, North East Devolution, along with devolution in other regions of the UK, has meant that regional public bodies are more able to provide tailored library services to their local communities. Almost every town you visit across the country has its own library – some are big, some are small, but all of them are full to the brim with books. Of course, London still has the most extensive collection of books in the UK, making it the perfect place for bibliophiles to visit, but the rest of the UK must not be forgotten if you’re considering a UK library tour.

The UK is home to some remarkable museums and amazing tourist destinations. From plenty of castles to magnificent halls like the Adlington Hall, the country has so much to offer. Aside from exploring works of art from different eras, you can also find literature and books that are not available elsewhere. Without these authors deciding to write their books in the first place, this experience would not be possible. Regardless of the outcome between the comparison of self publishing vs traditional publishing, their books have made it to the shelves of some of the UK’s top libraries for you to enjoy.

If you are interested in exploring these beautiful libraries, here are the ones to explore first:

Glasgow School of Art Library

The library at the Glasgow School of Art was the victim of a fire in 2015, but it was classified as almost undamaged structurally. The real damage was to the vast book collections the library was hosting. Still, the library is a must-visit if you are visiting Glasgow.

The structure alone is incredibly beautiful. Students of an online master in liberal studies program from reputable names such as Rutgers Online will find the Glasgow School of Art Library to be a place of wonders. It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh from the ground up and it still has a strong Art Nouveau design roots in every corner.

National Library of Wales/Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru

Holding over 6.5 million books, the National Library of Wales is the biggest library in Wales. Interestingly, however, it isn’t in Cardiff. Located in Aberystwyth in Cardigan Bay, the library was built between 1911 and 1915 and has one of the largest reading rooms in the country. Aberystwyth was chosen over Cardiff to host the library due to its central location and proximity to Aberystwyth University, then the University of Wales.

With stunning views across Cardigan Bay, the library sits nestled into the hillside of Penglais Hill. This came in useful during WWII, when many of the UK’s valuable artworks, treasures and manuscripts were moved to be stored securely in a tunnel beneath the library. Items that came into the care of the library included the Magna Carta, drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, art by Rembrandt and the autographs of William Shakespeare. The tunnel was heated and ventilated to ensure the proper preservation of items, and the entrance to the tunnel can still be visited today.

The Codrington Library

Oxford is home to several of Britain’s best and most beautiful libraries, and the Codrington is one of them. Again, it is a library that any literature fan and online master in liberal studies student will find magical due to its unique architecture and the vast collection of books from different eras.

The Codrington is situated inside Oxford College and it was completed in 1851. You only have to set foot in this library once to be in absolute awe; the library features a series of monochromatic accents that are too good to miss.

There is a catch to visiting the Codrington. The library is only open to members of Oxford University. You will have to be invited by a university member to be able to enter the facility. But, even when you are not a literature fan, a visit to the Codrington library will be one you remember.

The Bodleian

The Bodleian is another library in Oxford, but this one is open to the public. The beautiful structures were actually completed in different eras, beginning with the 15th century Divinity School. You can see the influence of modern history in the Radcliffe Camera and New Bodleian too.

Walking through the Bodleian feels like walking through British history. Tours are available on the site, plus you can apply for a membership before the actual trip to be able to access more areas. Spend a day browsing through books at the Bodleian; it will be the highlight of your library exploration tour of the UK.

Other libraries in the country are just as exquisite. The Peckham Library in London is for those who love modern architecture. The minimalistic architectural lines welcome you to an even more beautiful interior. The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester captures the neo-gothic era perfectly. The next time you are in the UK, make sure you take the time to visit these libraries.

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