The most beautiful libraries in the Netherlands

The most beautiful libraries in the Netherlands

In 2016, there were 154 public libraries in the Netherlands, but this number has been declining since the 1980s, mostly because of mobile technology. And while reading books online or on a phone or e-reader is incredibly convenient, there is nothing like the feel (and smell!) of an actual book in your hands. Well, that’s the opinion of this editor, anyway.

Do you feel the same way? Then be sure to check out the following stunning libraries in the Netherlands:

Handelingenkamer - De Tweede Kamer, The Hague

The proceedings and debates in the Dutch parliament are recorded verbatim by official reporters of the Parliamentary Reporting Office in The Hague. These recordings are stored in a beautiful, four-storey library, built at the end of the 19th century.

The architect, C.H. Peeters, was inspired by China, which is reflected in the colour scheme (red, gold and green), the many dragon heads and the patterns in the cast-iron staircases and balustrades. Thanks to the leaded glass dome roof, daylight filters down to the floor. This impressive library has room for 30.000 books.

Unfortunately, you can’t visit the Handelingenkamer whenever you want, since it is usually closed to the public. However, there are exceptions. One of these exceptions is Open Monumentendag.

TU Delft Library - Delft

TU Delft library

This university library in Delft is not just a library, it is the largest technical-scientific library in the Netherlands. It was designed by Mecanoo architects. It’s not hard to miss; simply look for the giant cone in a field of grass. This grass, by the way, makes the building energy efficient, since it has an insulating effect and also provides noise reduction. As for the books? They are displayed in an immense four-storey wall.

The TU Delft Library is open 365 days per year, which means it is also open during national holidays. You do not need to be a student at the university to be able to borrow books here, but you will need a membership!

Rijksmuseum Research Library - Amsterdam

rijksmuseum research library

Located in the main building of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, this library is one of the main art libraries in the world. Located within the museum, it houses a reading room and a print study room, where you can browse books, periodicals, catalogues of auctions and exhibitions, trade and collection catalogues and annual reports concerning the museum collections.

You can visit the Rijksmuseum Research Library reading room from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The print study room is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Both rooms are closed on national holidays.

Public Library Eemland - Amersfoort

Eemhuis Amersfoort

Located in Amersfoort, Het Eemhuis was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten, an architecture firm based in Rotterdam. It opened in 2014 and houses four different cultural organisations; Public Library Eemland, Archief Eemland, Scholen in de Kunst and Kunsthal KAdE. The library measures over 5.500 square metres, with the “reading room” in the central area consisting of eight “terraces”.

Library Eemland is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm. On Saturday, the library is open from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday, the library is open from 1pm to 5pm.

Boekenberg Spijkenisse - Spijkenisse

Ever wanted to climb a mountain of books? Well, you can in Spijkenisse. Sort of... De Boekenberg, which translates to the mountain of books, opened in April 2012 and was designed by architect Winy Maas from Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV. It took 10 years of planning, designing and building for this mountain to be finished. But what a sight! A pyramid-like glass structure houses an enormous pile of books inside, just waiting to be perused by you.

You can visit Boekenberg Spijkenisse on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am to 5.30pm, on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 8.30pm, on Saturday from 10am to 4pm and every first Sunday of the month (September to April) from 11am to 4pm.

OBA Oosterdok - Amsterdam

OBA Oosterdok

Situated just east of Central Station, the Amsterdam Public Library is located in an impressive, modern building, spread out over 10 floors. It was designed by architect Jo Coenen, who also designed the KNSM Island and the Central Library of Maastricht.

With over 28.000 square metres to fill, OBA Oosterdok is the largest library in the Netherlands. Over 4.000 people a day visit the library, which includes a reading café, a restaurant, seating for over 1.000 people, free Wi-Fi for members, and over 25.000 metres of bookshelves filled with books. That will keep you busy for a while!

OBA Oosterdok is open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 10pm. During the weekends, it is open from 10am to 8pm.

What is your favourite library? Let us know in the comments! Prefer to buy your books? Check out these awesome bookshops in the Netherlands.

Manja van Kesteren


Manja van Kesteren

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Manja studied English and Creative & Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. She has been working as a content editor and...

Read more



Leave a comment