Tianjin Binhai Library, China
The Tianjin Binhai Library is much younger than most libraries in this list. Opened in October 2017, it resides in the cultural center of Binhai district in Tianjin, a coastal metropolis outside Beijing. Its most eye-catching feature is a large spherical auditorium in the center, surrounded by rows of bookshelves that — on top of holding 1.2 million books — "act as everything from stairs to seating," according to a press release from architecture firm MVRDV. The shelves' contours also flow along two glass facades that link the library to a park outside.
"The bookshelves are great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors," says Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, in a statement. "The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing. Together they form the 'eye' of the building: to see and be seen."