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Fodor’s Eleven Most Beautiful Libraries in the US

by on December 2, 2022

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit the local public library so I’m overjoyed when travel
magazines take a moment to highlight them. In June, 2022, Fodor’s Travel named the “11 Most Beautiful Libraries in the United States.” [1] The article mainly focuses on architecture but, happily, also mentions some of the special offerings, like diverse programming, art displays, onsite cafes, and
language learning services.

A few of the libraries are not surprising – Seattle Central  and Los Angeles Central  were on the Fodor’s World’s Most Stunning Libraries list in 2017 as well and St. Louis’ Central Library is frequently fawned over in these types of lists (rightfully so). The other libraries in their selection are less discussed beauties and certainly grandiose. The higher the ceilings and more glass (or marble), the better.
Fodor’s list included the 280,000 square foot Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, Arizona with an atrium, glass elevators, and a reflecting pool and the 230,000 square foot Columbus Metropolitan Library  with “glass curtain walls surrounded by 360-degree views of outside nature.” Continuing this theme of glass, Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach and Slover Library in Norfolk, Virginia both have multi-story floor-to-ceiling windows. For those more interested in columns and marble staircases, the other libraries on Fodor’s list are of the Greek persuasion. Wilmington Public Library in Delaware is described as Neoclassic with “a massive, symmetrical white-gray façade.” Nashville Public Library has the Grand Reading Room, the Grand Stair, and the Courtyard (capitalization intentional), Indianapolis Central Library is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Louisville Free Public Library Main Branch has a 13-foot bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln.

But what about the small libraries without barrel-vaulted ceilings? They may not be among the 11 most
beautiful but a quick search in Fodor’s archive offers “10 Adorable Little Free Libraries Across the U.S.”
and “These Hotel Libraries Look So Unbelievably Cozy.” Enjoy the eye candy!