This Glow-in-the-Dark Library Has Over 8 Million Items

We're honestly not sure whether the interior or exterior of this building is cooler.

fullGrisha Bruev/Shutterstock

At first glance, what kind of building do you think this is? A museum? A stadium or arena? Or even just a cool art installation? Well, it’s none of those things—it’s a library. And a massive one, at that. It’s the National Library of Belarus, located in the Eastern European city of Minsk. (If the sight of this library doesn’t make you want to travel the world, these 10 books will!)

Since it was built in 2006, the gigantic orb-shaped structure has become a major tourist attraction, and we can see why! For one thing, its very shape is unique and impressive. The library was designed by Mihail Vinogradov and Viktor Kramarenko, architects who wanted it to resemble a “Belarusian diamond.” The diamond, they said, was meant to symbolize the immense value of knowledge. The design took 13 years to be approved… but we think it was worth the wait!

The technical name of this shape is a “rhombicuboctahedron”—it has 18 square faces and eight triangular ones. And each of those 26 faces is covered with miniature color-changing lights. Every night, the building lights up and puts on a dazzling show.


And that’s just the outside! The main entrance to the library, shown above, is designed to look like an open book, and visitors walk through it to find themselves in a book lover’s paradise. The enormous structure is 236 feet tall, with each of its 22 different levels chock-full of reading material. As if that weren’t enough, the orb also contains massive conference rooms big enough to hold over 400 people. Oh yeah, and it holds a grand total of 8.6 million items, in many different languages and media formats, from books to CDs to sheet music. (You won’t believe how many titles the world’s biggest literary hotel has!)

interiorGrisha Bruev/Shutterstock

Finally, the library has both an inside and an open-air observation deck, where visitors can look out at the rest of Minsk. The library itself is surrounded by a picturesque park by a river. However pretty the park is, though, we think the people outside the library have a better view!

Speaking of gorgeous libraries, check out this one in China, where the books go on forever!

[Sources: Atlas Obscura, National Library of Belarus]

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine.