The most extreme libraries on Earth

Libraries are amazing places and worth a visit whatever your age.

Our local lenders are all treasure troves of discovery but we’ve decided to explore some of the world’s most extreme places to borrow a book.

Think reading rooms which double as Hollywood movie sets and shelves of books at lofty heights - checking out the latest Jacqueline Wilson has never been more record-breaking.

The most famous library on the silver screen

SHUTTERSTOCK
This scene from the first Ghostbusters film was shot in New York Public Library.

New York Public Library on the corner of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street should be a familiar sight to movie fans.

GETTY
The Rose Main Reading Room in New York Public Library.

Famed for its Rose Main Reading Room, the library appeared in the Audrey Hepburn classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961. Twenty-three years later it featured in Ghostbusters where the team encountered the spirit of librarian Eleanor Twitty.

Those are just two of the many films with scenes shot here. Others include two of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, The Day After Tomorrow and the Sex and the City movie.

The oldest library in the world

GETTY
The world's oldest library is part of al-Qarawiyyin University in Morocco.

Fez in Morocco is home to al-Qarawiyyin University. Inside you’ll find a library which has been in constant use since 859.

That’s not a typo, this library has been issuing books and other documents for 1,160 years. That gives potential for some eye-watering late return fines.

GETTY
The massive reading room in the US Library of Congress.

The biggest library on the planet

The Library of Congress in Washington DC, United States has the largest number of books in its collection in the world. That means it also has the most shelf space.

To put it in hard figures, that’s more than 167 million different items on around 838 miles of shelving. Can’t be much fun dusting that.

The highest library you'll ever find

Guests at a hotel in Tomorrow Square, Shanghai, China, have a bit of a trip if they fancy a read.

The library is on the 60th floor, almost 231 metres from the ground and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the highest on the planet.

GETTY
The hotel building on the right is home to the world's highest library.

The little library with a big heart

The Little Free Library is an entire network of tiny book collections across America.

More than 75,000 sites in the USA are home to these tiny boxes, usually containing a couple of small shelves of books.

GETTY
There are tens of thousands of Free Little Library sites across America.

They are usually based in the heart of communities where people either take a book to read or leave one for someone else.

It's a concept used around the world. In the UK, our old red telephone boxes are sometimes turned into tiny lending libraries once they fall out of use.

The collection you (probably) couldn’t finish if you tried

GETTY
It would take you a very, very long time to see every item in the British Library.

It’s not surprising the British Library near St Pancras station in London is the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century. It needs space - and lots of it.

Ten million bricks were used to create its 14 storeys of knowledge. Three million items are added to its collection annually, increasing its already massive shelf space (625km) by 12km each year. It’s not just books that are stored there, visitors can also see maps, drawings and music scores among other items.

Just make sure you know which book you’re looking for before you start browsing. If you worked at a pace of examining five items a day, it would take more than 80,000 years to go through the entire collection.

Seven books which made history
How to write an adventure story
revision-guide
The pedantic punctuation quiz
quiz