I couldn’t possibly not go to somewhere known as the ‘Cathedral of Books’. The George Peabody Library is one of the better known libraries in the United States because of its design and elegance. The building was completed in 1878, having been designed by Edmund George Lind.
Unfortunately my photos aren’t of a particularly good quality, but they give an impression of the design and scale of the library.
I never tire of looking at shelves full of books, a glorious sight, even though these are somewhat damaged. I doubt they’re accessed enough to justify the costs of repair or rebinding though.
This book was published in 1861 and is the catalogue of the books which the library had proposed to buy. The opening of the library was a little delayed due to the American Civil War, but the hopes of having such a grand library in Baltimore didn’t diminish during the wait. Even by 1863 the first librarian, John G. Morris, had purchased over 2,000 books, although the book above had a list of 20,000 title, so he still had some way to go.
Today the collection has over 300,000 books and is today part of the John Hopkins University who note that the library has “strengths in religion, British art, architecture, topography and history; American history, biography, and literature; Romance languages and literature; history of science; and geography, exploration, and travel”. Which isn’t a bad little collection of strengths.
There’s no admission charge to enter the library, although it’s main purpose now appears to be just as a book store as there were no readers at all when I was there. The higher levels of the book stacks aren’t accessible to visitors, but it’s still a worthwhile visit just to be able to look inside the building.