Palaces of Self-Discovery: Photos Document the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

Symmetrical photographs reveal the elegant geometries present in the architecture of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries, captured by Thibaud Poirier. The Paris-based photographer has traveled throughout Europe, visiting places like the Bibliotheque de la Sorbonne, the modern white Stadtbibliothek in Stuttgart, Dublin’s Trinity College Library and the church-like Biblioteca Angelica in Rome to highlight their classical beauty and make us all wish we were roaming around gazing at those rows of books right now.

“Like fingerprints, each architect crafted his vision for a new space for this sacred self-exploration,” says Poirier. “These seemingly minute details are everywhere, from the balance of natural and artificial light to optimize reading yet preserve ancient texts to the selective use of studying tables to either foster community or encourage lonely reflection. The selection of these libraries that span space, time, style and cultures were carefully selected for each one’s unique ambiance and architectural contribution.”

The photographer calls this library series ‘Palaces of Self-Discovery,’ noting that they provide the same kind of worship space and community interaction as a church, even while the act of reading is typically a solitary one. Within each of these buildings is countless opportunities to lose oneself in another place or time, take on another person’s identity and temporarily forget about all of our cares and worries.

The photos also offer something we couldn’t get from these libraries in real life: the chance to see them empty of people. Poirier seems to have gained permission to enter each library before or after opening hours to get his shots, further emphasizing the sense of solitary exploration. See the whole series at Thibaud Poirier’s website.