Saturday, June 15, 2024

Still Life with Robin: The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World -- and We Wuz Robbed!

 by Peggy Robin

In my daily wanderings through the sewer that  is The Site Formerly Known as Twitter,* I  still find little islands of beauty and tranquility

Today I discovered "The Thread of the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World":

There are 25 libraries listed, with the number one ranking going to Trinity College Library in Dublin.

So many gorgeous, stunning, jaw-droppingly beautiful Temples of The Book in this collection! But there's one thing wrong with it, one thing I must protest!
DC's own most beautiful library in this collection of the top 25 is ranked at #25....dead last! How can that be?

Our beloved and most splendiferous Library of Congress deserves to be in the Top Ten.

I won't name names of the ones I'd rank lower but will lay out five areas of disagreement with the "Most Beautiful" rankings compiled by the poster, CLT @CLT_Exam (whose pinned motto at the top of the profile page is: "Beauty will save the world."):
  1. All the libraries within monasteries should be moved into a separate sub-category of "Most Beautiful Libraries Within Monasteries." These are not free-standing libraries but a set-aside space within a building whose main purpose is not the collection of books. 
  2. Libraries that make the list due to a spectacular geographical site or the view from their windows are not beautiful as libraries per se, but should be considered as "rooms with a view" -- and should not make the list.
  3. Libraries that make the list mainly due to great frescoes, sculptures or other masterpieces by renowned artists exemplify a museum-ish form of beauty -- while the purpose of this list is to showcase beauty in the display of books and/or the glories of the main reading room. That is to say, it's not a ranking of art galleries.
  4. Some of the libraries on this list have a magnificent display of books, but because they're so dark, so dimly lit, it's difficult to appreciate what's there. There needs to be just the right balance of light and shadow to be deemed "Most Beautiful."
  5. There are at least two libraries on the list that would not be ruled out based on the other four criteria but, to be blunt, are just not that good-looking. I won't say which two I've found to be the lesser, judged by simple aesthetics; look over all the photos on the list and see for yourself whether you think our LoC tops at least two of these listed libraries on grounds of aesthetics alone.
After applying all five precepts, I reach the conclusion that our Library of Congress should be moved up fifteen notches, to the number ten position in the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World.
* The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, for which the acronym could be SiFoKAT (pronounced "suffocate".)
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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