You don’t have to be able to read the books in these libraries to appreciate their beauty. Taiwan as a whole really values beauty, technology, and education; all these qualities are readily apparent throughout the entire country, and the libraries are no exception.
I was first impressed by the library nearest my apartment in Taiwan, and then made it my mission to visit the biggest library in each area I travelled. Although I returned to America before completing my Taiwan’s Cool Libraries bucket list, I think these few featured — my favorites — give you an accurate idea of the big libraries on this little island.
Taipei Public Library – Beitou Branch
Only a quick train ride from the bustle of downtown Taipei is the Beitou Branch of the Taipei Public Library. Beitou is widely known for its hot springs, and this library is actually located in Beitou Hot Spring Park, surrounded by hot spring hotels and museums and nature. I wouldn’t recommend combining books and the fierce sulfurous steaming water nearby, but I do consider both absolute miracle workers for relaxing after a stressful day.
Opened in 2006, Beitou Library is Taiwan’s first “green” library. Not only is it made of sustainable wood, but the roof is covered in solar panels and the large windows throughout provide natural light to reduce the need for electric artificial light.
There are both indoor and outdoor study areas, and you can’t go wrong since every single spot has a gorgeous view of the extensive greenery outside. A big perk of the outdoor spots though is the peaceful river burbling in the background — nature's stereo system. There’s even a natural waterfall with a bench nearby if you explore the outside area further!
Overall, this library is perfect for eco-friendly, nature-loving bookworms.
National Taitung University Library and Information Center
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this is a library!
Honestly, without a student ID and because of my timing/language barrier, I wasn’t allowed inside past the first floor, but I spent a few hours walking around outside, relaxing and taking photos, in awe. In fact, I almost registered for classes at this university just so this could be my library.
National Taitung University’s campus is situated on Taiwan’s East Coast, between mountains and sea, so this five-story structure was designed to blend in with and add to its picturesque surroundings that make this campus so stunning.
The mountain-like pyramid is covered in grass and has stairs so visitors can climb up this building for an even better panoramic view of the area. I climbed up and down the steps a few times like it was a mild mountain hike, and I truly could’ve stayed at the top forever!
New Taipei City Main Public Library
Walking through the doors of New Taipei City Main Public Library, I felt like I had stepped inside a video game. The inside is themed pure, startling white. Not only does this library look like a “library of the future” from a sci-fi movie, but it is truly the definition of a “library of the future.”
First, just like the 7-Elevens on every street in Taiwan, this library is open 24/7! During late-night hours, a unique self-checkout system is in place to retrieve books. Sophia Yang wrote of it for Taiwan News in 2015: “Users simply need to click on the desired book to borrow, and place their library card in front of the sensor, the system will then automatically pick up the requested book from the back of the shelf. Visitors can observe the automation in life action through a huge glass window. This modernized automatic storage and retrieval system will only take 30 seconds to finish the lending service.”
Priding itself as a pioneer of “Universal Design,” its main intention is to serve all types of users. Each of its 10 floors was carefully designed to suit different readers, including full access to readers with disabilities and senior citizens. Their reading spaces even have exotic themes, such as a Japanese Zen styled corner, to make every visitor feel at home. And of course, there’s a huge coffee shop on the first floor.
By the time I visited this library, I was fully accustomed to expect high-tech efficiency from everyone and everywhere in Taiwan, but even still, I was impressed by how futuristic the building was. Seriously, the individual booths with flat-screen TVs and gaming systems attached were next level. Public, accessible cutting-edge technology and reading space 24/7? What more could you ask for?
National Taiwan University Library
I bet you wish your university library looked this cool! I saw lots of girls taking Instagram pictures in the main areas of this place. It was designed by renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito and offers a very relaxing place to study!
New Taipei City Library – Banqiao Branch
Believe it or not, this is just an average library in Taiwan! Most of the other libraries I visited have the same general vibe as this one, so I’m using this one to represent the other typical branches I visited. They really have fun with the architecture and seating and décor, and it works! The libraries usually have quite a few people studying and lounging about. The children’s areas are always especially bright and fun. I loved this library’s huge giraffe and interesting seating options.