As a university town, this city's not short on libraries. But the new public library on Spring Garden Road, with its five storeys of cantilevered glass rectangles, is the best of the bunch. The 129,000-square-foot building from famed Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, in partnership with Canadian company Fowler Bauld & Mitchell, includes a theatre, two cafés, a gaming station, a music studio and a rooftop patio where you can use the free Wi-Fi while gazing out over the harbour.
5440 Spring Garden Rd., 902-490-5700
Also designed by Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen, this new building looks like a slightly compressed "Y" with its two mirroring pitched roofs pointing into the big Edmonton sky. Inside you'll find 30,000 borrowable books and a gallery-like main reading room that's wide-open and flooded with natural light – one of the best spots in the city to cozy up with a good read.
6710 118 Ave. NW, 780-496-7047
Foster + Partners' mega-library is composed of many layers – a series of curving floors open to an atrium awash in white steel and translucent panels – that make it look unnervingly like a brain when viewed from the top floor inside. It's an apt design, since the library is home to more than 750,000 volumes on philosophy, history, linguistics and other subjects.
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 49-30-838-588-88
4. Bibliothèque Liyuan
This tiny library has been big news ever since its architect, Li Xiaodong, won the inaugural Moriyama RAIC International Prize for its design in 2014. The defining feature: its exterior, which is covered in more than 40,000 sticks and twigs from the surrounding forest – a serene scene just two hours from Beijing. Head indoors and you'll find about 7,000 titles and hidden reading nooks.
Jiaojiehe Village, 86-18-9115-45700