• Foster + Partners/ Free University

  • Pablo Sanchez/PEAL

  • GMIT

  • AFP

  • UC San Diego

  • AFP

  • iStock

  • Reuters

  • UNAM

  • BPL

Now that summer is in full swing, all thoughts of cramming to finish overdue projects have likely drifted away. But just because you’ll be reading trashy magazines at the beach for the next month, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate these stunning temples of learning. Designed by some of the world’s greatest architects, these 10 libraries will expand your mind even if you never pick up a book.

  • 1. Philological “Brain” Library at the Free University — Berlin, Germany

    Foster + Partners/ Free University

    Designed by noted architect Norman Foster, a.k.a. Baron Foster of Thames Bank, this library on the campus of the Free University of Berlin, is in the shape of a human brain. 

  • 2. Phillips Exeter Academy Library - Exeter, New Hampshire

    Pablo Sanchez/PEAL

    Phillips Exeter Academy Library was designed by renowned American architect Louis Kahn in 1965. Kahn structured the library in three concentric square rings, each one made from a different material, to give the visitor the sense that they are passing through buildings within buildings. 

  • 3. Cluain Mhuire Campus Library, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology — Galway, Ireland

    GMIT

    Cluain Mhuire Campus Library was designed as a resource center for students and staff of GMIT who specialize in design, art, film and television. If this space doesn't inspire them, it's hard to imagine what will.

  • 4. Trinity College Library at University of Dublin — Dublin, Ireland

    AFP

    The Trinity College Library, located at Trinity College, Dublin, is the largest library in Ireland. It's also got a seriously long history, the library began with the founding of Trinity College back in 1592.

  • 5. Geisel Library at University of California, San Diego — San Diego, Calif.

    UC San Diego

    Although it looks less whimsical than his drawings, Geisel Library is named in honor of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss). According to the library's website, the formerly named University Library Building was renamed to pay tribute to both Audrey and Theodor Geisel "for the generous contributions they have made to the library and their devotion to improving literacy."

  • 6. French National Assembly Library - Palais Bourbon, Paris, France

    AFP

    This library was originally created with books belonging to the clergy and aristocrats who left France during the French Revolution. The library is home to priceless historical artifacts, like the minutes from Joan of Arc's trial and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's manuscripts. 

  • 7. New York Public Library — New York, N.Y.

    iStock

    Following a competition among New York City's most prominent architects, the firm Carrère and Hastings, who would later go on to plan New York's iconic Grand Army Plaza, was selected to design and construct the library along a two-block section of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets. The building officially opened on May 23, 1911, with a ceremony presided over by President William Howard Taft.

  • 8. National Library of Belarus — Minsk, Belarus

    Reuters

    This modern architectural library, designed by architects Mihail Vinogradov and Viktor Kramarenko, has a total of 22 floors and was completed in Jan., 2006. The word for its shape: a rhombicuboctahedron. Try to say that five times fast. 

  • 9. Central Library at National Autonomous University of Mexico — Mexico City, Mexico

    UNAM

    Made from thousands of colored tiles collected from all over Mexico, the Central Library is known for its elaborate mural facade. Designed by Carlos Lazo, each side of the building contains part of a massive mural that tell the story of Mexico's history, from ancient to modern. 

  • 10. Bishan Public Library — Singapore

    BPL

    In this library, designed by LOOK Architects, daylight is transformed throughout the building, as skylights, trellises and colored glass morph the light into a myriad of shades and colors.