Bookworms and architecture lovers unite! There are many interesting libraries in Amsterdam, and some of them are quite hidden. Let’s explore a few favorites.
18 Coolest Libraries in Amsterdam
Do you need to research esoteric historical documents? Maybe you are an awesome nerd with a love of old books or interesting architecture. Or perhaps you’d just like a quiet place to work or study. In any case, here are some wonderful Amsterdam libraries that you can discover.
Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA)
Amsterdam’s main public library is located near Centraal Station in a bright modern building that overlooks the city on one side and the waters of the IJ on the other. Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam has a children’s section on the bottom floor, magazines and newspapers on the main floor and 7 other public floors housing a variety of books on every topic. They have multimedia sections and foreign language texts as well as many seating areas to read or study.
As mentioned above, the library has great views and is a wonderful place to spend some time. Bring your laptop to study or work and take a break at one of the cafes located on the top floor or ground floor. Or hop next door to Hanneke’s Boom.
The OBA is free to visit but if you want to borrow materials you will need to apply for membership. You’ll need identification, a local address and to pay a fee of about €42 annually. This allows you to borrow as many books as you like and also to access the WIFI at the library for free. If you do not wish to borrow items and only want to use the WIFI you can also pay €1 per 30 minutes or €12/year.
For more information about Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, visit their website.
Oosterdokskade 143, Amsterdam
The historic Cuypers Library at the Rijksmuseum is almost one of the museum exhibits in itself. You can view the gorgeous 19th century library reading room from above when visiting the museum.
The Rijksmuseum Research Library is one of the most important art libraries in the world. Catalogues of auctions and exhibitions as well as books, periodicals and annual reports relating to the museum collections have been preserved and are stored here. If you’d like to use the library you will need a pass, check the website for more information.
Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam
Ritman Library / Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
The Ritman Library has recently reshaped their private library into a public institution. They moved their collection to the Huis met de Hoofden (House with the Heads) on Keizersgracht and began calling the library the Embassy of the Free Mind. The library was founded specializing in manuscripts of the Hermetic tradition, and also has volumes on other spiritual, philosophical and religious traditions as well as art and science.
Author Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame used the library for research for some of his books. You too can visit, purchase an entry ticket for €9 or book a guided tour. Check the website for details and information about opening hours.
Keizersgracht 123, Amsterdam
Amsterdam University Library
The Universiteit van Amsterdam Bibliotheek on Singel is a great place for students to conduct research and have a quiet place to study. In addition to tables and desks around the building there are also private study rooms and computers you can use. The library is accessible to students, faculty and staff and anyone with a library card. There is an open WIFI network for students.
If you are not a UvA student or a student at another local university you will need a library card to access the library and borrow materials. You can get a card for €35 for the UvA, or pay a bit more and get an Adamnet card for €45 which gives you access to the libraries of UvA and OBA as well as other universities and institutions, many of which are listed on this page!
Check the UvA website for more information and opening hours.
Singel 425, Amsterdam
Huis de Pinto
Huis de Pinto is a center for culture and education as well as a meeting place for locals and visitors. They have a charming library where you can do a book exchange or simply go for a quiet afternoon in the reading room. Huis de Pinto also has a selection of local newspapers and magazines that you can peruse over a cup of tea.
As well as the exchange library and reading room, Huis De Pinto hosts lectures, music performances, poetry recitals, art exhibitions and more.
Check the website for opening hours and information.
Sint Antoniesbreestraat 69, Amsterdam
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OBA Roelof Hartplein
The library at Roelof Hartplein in Amsterdam Zuid is free to visit but if you want to borrow materials you will need to apply for membership. You’ll need identification, a local address and to pay a fee of about €42 annually. This allows you to borrow as many books as you like and also to access the WIFI at the library for free. If you do not wish to borrow items and only want to use the WIFI you can also pay €1 per 30 minutes or €12/year.
OBA at Roelof Hartplein also has a cafe (currently King Coffee) in their study room just off the main entrance which can be busy with students.
For more information about the library you can visit their website.
Roelof Hartplein 430, Amsterdam
The Artis Library is a 19th century gallery library located at the Artis Zoo. The collections cover the topics of evolutionary theory, natural history and the zoo history and records. It was originally part of the zoo, but in 1939 the zoo almost went bankrupt and the library ownership was transferred to the University of Amsterdam. Now the library is a part of the Bijzondere Collecties of UvA. As a part of the University, the library is open to students and the public some days of the week. Check the website for details.
There are many wonderful things to see (and eat!) in the Plantage neighborhood. Take a look at our tips.
Plantage Middenlaan 45, Amsterdam
This public library located between Westerpark and the Jordaan is a good place to study.
Van Hallstraat 615, Amsterdam
Library Conservatorium Van Amsterdam
The Conservatorium is located next to the Centraal Openbare Bibliotheek and is the Amsterdam’s music school. The CvA has a library with a large collection of sheet music, books on music, periodicals, CDs, DVDs and LP records. Music students and staff can become members. Check the website for more details.
Feeling hungry or thirsty? Pop over to Hanneke’s Boom after a visit to the OBA or Conservatorium libraries.
Oosterdokskade 151, Amsterdam
UvA Bijzondere Collecties
The Bijzondere Collecties or Special Collections are part of the University of Amsterdam’s library and include rare books, ancient manuscripts, prints, pictures and maps. Many of the items in the Special Collections are museum quality and serve important roles in education and research.
As the library is housed within the Allard Pierson Museum entrance is free to the Bijzondere Collecties with a Museumcard, and of course UvA students have free access.
For more information on the library and opening hours, visit the website.
Oude Turfmarkt 129, Amsterdam
When you visit the OBA Cinétol for the first time you may be surprised by the unusual architecture. The library is housed in a monument building that was originally constructed as a theosophical temple and then used as a cinema.
The library is part of the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam and has a collection of books, DVDs, newspapers and magazines to view there or borrow if you are a member. Access to the library is free for the public, and WIFI is free for members or you can pay €1/30 minutes.
Visit the website for information about current opening hours and library events.
Tolstraat 160, Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum Library
The Van Gogh Museum has a collection of materials related to the museum collection. The library is located next to the museum in the former home of architect Jan de Bie Leuveling Tjeenk. You can visit the library for free and view the collection of books, magazines and documentation in the museum’s reading room without an appointment.
Visit the website for opening hours and further details.
Museumplein 4, Amsterdam
Library Academy of Architecture
Amsterdam University of the Arts has several specialist libraries within their system. The Library of the Academy of Architecture is open to the public. Materials can only be borrowed by students, faculty and staff however. Check the website for opening hours and information.
Waterlooplein 213, Amsterdam
Amsterdam Museum Library
The Amsterdam Museum’s library specializes in information about preparing exhibits and making collections. This includes museum catalogs, They also have books about the history of Amsterdam, including much of the collection that previously was located at Museum Willet-Holthuysen and other documents about their own exhibits.
Kalverstraat 92, Amsterdam
Ets Haim Livraria Montezinos
The oldest functioning Jewish library in the world has been housed at the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam since 1675. It is possible to see the library as part of your visit to the synagogue, check the website for information about booking a tour.
Mr. Visserplein 3, Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum Library
If you are looking for books about contemporary art and design visit the Stedelijk Museum Library. This library also has documentaries about modern art as well as a good array of design magazines.
You can access the Stedelijk Library for free without a ticket to enter the museum. And they have a reading room with free WIFI access. What more could you desire? Oh – there is a cafe in the main lobby of the museum and a restaurant on the side!
Check their website for the latest information on opening hours.
Museumplein 10, Amsterdam
The Scheepvaartmuseum Library has one of the most important maritime history collections in the world and includes vast information about the Dutch Golden Age and the history of navigation. In addition to the typical books and records the museum also has a good collection of maps. The library is housed in the museum building and entrance is free, no museum ticket is needed.
If you feel like taking a break after visiting the library, the Scheepvaart Museum is definitely worth a visit. There is also a delicious cafe on the opposite side of the building.
For more information about the museum library, visit their website.
Kattenburgerplein 1, Amsterdam
EYE Study Film Collection Center
The film and archive collection of the EYE Museum is now located in a new building nearby. The Collection Center is for film conservation, restoration, study and research. There is a small cinema room as well as study areas for students, professionals and visitors. The Center is open on weekday afternoons. Visit the website for more information.
Asterweg 26, Amsterdam Noord
OBA de Hallen
There is a cozy branch of Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam in De Hallen Tramremise in Amsterdam Oud West. They have a good collection of materials for adults and children, and there is also a cafe in the same building as the public library. Cafe Belcampo is popular with parents of toddlers as well as freelancers who use the upstairs space to work on their laptops.
WIFI is free for library members or you can pay €1/30 minutes.
Visit the website for opening hours and further details.
Hannie Dankbaarpassage 10, Amsterdam
Looking for a free book? You’ll find mini free libraries like this one in the Jordaan scattered around the city where you can take a book or leave one behind.
“My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles.
They both move people forward without wasting anything.
The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin, public information officer for the
Arlington Public Library in Virginia
Well, Mr. Golkin, come on over to Amsterdam! That’s how we do it! 🙂
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