Throughout history, there have undoubtedly been some fantastic libraries constructed around the world. Used by the leading scholars, these libraries have played an essential role in spreading knowledge and information. Here are a few facts about just some of the greatest.

Biblioteca Malatestiana

This was the very first public library in Europe and opened in the mid-1400s in the town of Cesena, Italy. Any person could go along and browse the vast range of both Roman and Greek texts. It is thought that the idea of a public library was developed in the Islamic world, but once brought to the western world it spread very quickly.

Vatican Library

This is another 15th-century library, although not a public lending institution. Since the library started, it has housed a wide variety of historical, religious and philosophical texts from different parts of the world, most of which are extremely rare. Scholars from across the globe come to study here, and people can even take library science courses at the Vatican.

Biblioteca Palafoxiana

This building was the first public library in Mexico, and arguably the first one in North America. Formerly home to mainly religious texts, it was founded by the Spanish imperialists and located in the town of Puebla.

Bibliotheque Nationale de France

The Bibliotheque Nationale de France was founded by the French monarchy, and over the years many added to it. However, it was during the French Revolution, which started in 1789, that it became a symbol of freedom. By that stage, it had been open to the public for 100 years, but the revolutionaries added the literary collections of the aristocracy to the library, expanding it even further, to ensure that the citizens would have access to the knowledge they needed for their freedom and independence.

US Library of Congress

This is one of the leading research libraries in the world, as it is home to some of the most critical documents in both US and global history. Each copyright in the country will pass through this library, and it is thought to hold a copy of every significant work of literature published in its original language.

National Library of Poland

This library has had to reinvent itself. It was home to a vast collection of books, paintings and cultural artefacts, but during World War II the Nazis destroyed the library and its contents. However, since then, a great effort has been made to restore the collection to its former glory. It has been rebuilt, and it has become the largest archive in Poland.

Many other libraries around the world have a fascinating history. These include the libraries of the Smithsonian Institute, the New York Public Library and the British Library.