Stockholm’s Best Libraries
Neelam Varia rounds up some of the best libraries in Stockholm
Sometimes, nothing can beat curling up with a good book. Getting lost in another world, or learning something new – books can be the ultimate form of escapism. There is also something about libraries, being surrounded by endless shelves of old books, the cosyness and the access to all the knowledge in the world. Stockholm is home to some of the most beautiful old libraries.
Here are some of the best libraries in Stockholm you should definitely make space in the diary for.
Stockholm Public Library
Probably the most noteworthy library on our list, Stockholm Public Library was designed by Gunnar Asplund, whose other notable projects include Skogskyrkogården. The circular structure lends itself to a spectacular interior, where you are completely surrounded by books. Indeed, the library has been named as one of the most beautiful in the world by global publishing house Condé Nast.
The library houses over 2 million books, in over 100 languages including Thai, Spanish and Russian. But if I’m being honest, this library is more about the photo opportunity. Trust me, your Instagram followers will appreciate it.
National Library of Sweden
The National Library of Sweden houses almost everything published in Sweden, and everything that’s in Swedish from 1661. As well as literature, the library houses games, music, tv and radio programs – almost any form of media you can think of.
The library exists because of a law passed in 1661 which called for all publications in Sweden/Swedish to be gathered centrally. While initially the law was seen as a way for royalty to exert its power, over time, it has become a way to preserve history through literary works.
Perhaps the most fascinating work in the collections is The Devil’s Bible. It’s the world’s largest surviving medieval manuscript measuring at around 90cm in height and 50cm wide. It is worth visiting the library just for this!
Find the royal library in Humlegården in Östermalm.
You’ll find the Nobel Library in the Nobel Museum, in beautiful Gamla Stan. Naturally, it’s funded by the Nobel Foundation as well as the Swedish Institute.
The library is used primarily by the Swedish Academy, one of the Royal Academies of Sweden, to aid in making the annual decision on the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and so the primary function of the library is to collect all the literary works that will be judged during the decision making process.
Because of this, the library’s collection is largely focused on contemporary literature and the majority of the works will be held in their original language.
To be in the presence of the works of some of the best writers the world has seen is really quite inspiring, and whether you’re an avid writer or not, it’s definitely worth the visit.
The opening hours are quite limited, so do plan in advance.
The Nordic Museum Library
The Nordic Museum is a grand building located on Djurgården and is dedicated to the cultural history of Sweden, spanning 500 years. It was founded by Swedish scholar Artur Hazelius, who also founded ethnographic museum, Skansen.
The collections feature memoirs, documents from societies and clothing, while the library collections reflect the different collections.
The library allows visitors to delve further into the worlds of historic and present day Swedes and there is also access to archived material.
The building itself is another one of Sweden’s architectural triumphs, so be sure to take that perfect shot!