Asia’s most beautiful, bizarre and bemusing libraries

Travel trends

Libraries aren’t always found in four walls. Source: Laetitia Buscaylet / Unsplash

WORLD POETRY DAY is upon us and to celebrate it, we want to take you on a tour of Asia’s most beautiful libraries.

Some are contemporary in design, others are centuries old, but all of them contain a wealth of knowledge, enchanting stories, important lessons and sacred scriptures.

Libraries are places where history and scripture are kept safe, a place where ideas can flow, and imagination can be ignited.

Each library has its own unique quirk making them a must-visit attraction when in the area. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Tianyi Pavilion Library, Ningbo China:

This is the world’s third oldest private library, home to more than 300,000 ancient books and historical records, with around 7,000 of them being rare works.

It was built in 1561 by Fan Qin, a high-ranking Ming Dynasty government official who wanted to showcase an impressive collection.

The library is set next to the tranquil Ming Lake with artificial hills and sculptures of animals making it a picturesque setting for an afternoon of reading.

Rampur Raza Library, Rampur, India:

This grand pink building in Rampur is indisputably one of the most elegant libraries in the world, not just Asia.

It was built over 200 years ago by Nawab Faizullah Khan, the ruler of the state at the time.

Originally, it homed his own personal collection of Indo-Islamic manuscripts but soon it became full of the works of calligraphers, scholars, poets, artists, and musicians.

Today, the library is home is to over 17,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi and Turkish.

These are in addition to 80,000 books about art, history, culture, and also some astronomical instruments inside the library.

National Library of Bhutan:

Doubling up as a Buddhist temple, this library was completed in 1984 and is home to around 6,100 Tibetan and Bhutanese books, manuscripts and xylographs (wood engravings).

The collection is relatively small in comparison to other national libraries; however, it does boast the world’s largest collection of Buddhists religious scripture.

Grand People’s Study House, North Korea:

This library is extraordinary. Built in 1982 in honor of Kim Il-Sung’s 70th birthday, the library contains 600 rooms with the capacity for 30 million books.

That is larger than Berlin’s State library, bigger than Russia’s Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences and bigger than Boston’s Public library.

But because foreign literature is hugely regulated, the shelves remain relatively empty.

Beitou Library, Taiwan:

Although this might not be the most spectacular-looking library on the list, it certainly deserves a worthy shout out for being eco-friendly, and it still looks cool.

The library’s slanted roof collects moisture from humidity and rain and then uses it to replenish restroom water supplies and water the gardens.

With the addition of solar panels and deep-set latticed windows to reduce energy, the library is the first to achieve a diamond rating under the government’s new eco-friendliness rating system.

The wood-clad library has more than 20,000 English and Chinese literature for visitors to browse through at their own leisure.

Take a stroll along the wooden balcony or take a book out and find some shade so you can indulge in your new favorite read.

Picture Book Library, Iwaki City, Japan:

Do you remember being a kindergartener and thinking, “I really just wish I had a place to call my own, to de-stress from all the playing and to chill with like-minded people?” Well, Japan has the answer to this pre-schooler problem.

Picture Book Library Museum was built in 2005 so the children of Iwaki, Fukushima could have a place of their own.

Designed by self-taught architect Tadao Ando, space was created to entice children into a fun place to learn, to play and to engage imaginations.

Reading Club 2000, Manila, Philippines:

Reading Club 2000 began as the brainchild of Hernando Guanlao. He wanted to do something in memory of his parents, and since they instilled his love for reading, what better way than to open a library.

This is a no fandangled library with very humble beginnings. Guanlao began his stall outside his Manila home to see if people would want to borrow his books.

Now with some 2,500 books, Reading Club 2000 has been going strong for 12 years.

Indonesia’s horseback library:

One man and his horse are on a mission to reduce illiteracy rates in rural parts of Indonesia.

Ridwan Sururi runs a horseback library for three days a week. He and his horse Luna visit nearby villages with books strapped into the saddle bag.

As the children hear Luna’s hooves trot along the road, they run out to greet them. All of Sururi’s books are from donations and without them, many people in the area would have no access to literature.

Have you got any suggestions to add our beautiful libraries list?