Skywalker Ranch Research Library.

Hide out With a Good Book at These Gorgeous Bay Area Libraries

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There's something so awe-inspiring about a gorgeous library. These six local literary meccas are sure to make even the snobbiest bibliothecary go “damn."


Tucked away in Marin County, Skywalker Ranch is home to legendary Skywalker Sound, one of the film industry's most prominent campuses. And while most visitors head straight for the giant Yoda statue, the real star is its full service reference library. With an extensive collection of books, periodicals, and picture files on film, theater, and television production, even the biggest Stars Wars fan can learn something new in its vast repertoire. The library's warm wooden details are illuminated by a one-of-a kind stained glass dome ceiling, making the atmosphere intimate and elegant. Relax in one of the leather seats on the first floor, or grab a book and take a seat at one of the desks. Either way, you're in the same place where countless costume and set designers, directors, makeup artists, and even George Lucas himself, have come for inspiration. That's kind of a big deal. // 5858 Lucas Valley Road, Nicasio; skysound.com/ranch

(Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley)

One of UC Berkeley's most iconic libraries, Doe's high ceilings and picturesque rows of desks makes it a university student's fantasy. Designed by architect Emile Bonard, the library reflects the classic revival style, from its ornate, sculpted detail to the entrance columns welcoming visitors. Step inside this spacious neoclassical masterpiece and marvel at its Gardner Stacks collection, a four-story underground structure housing over 50 miles of bookshelves(!), including some of the University's most treasured collections. The Main Stacks (as they're referred to by Cal students) also connects Doe Library to Moffitt Library via an underground hallway. Take in beautiful architecture while exploring beneath the surface, it's as if you're in an Indiana Jones film. // University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley; lib.berkeley.edu/doelibrary

(photo via Flickr)

Regarded as one of the world's leading graduate universities in medical and health research, UCSF's serious curriculum calls for a serious spot to study. With spacious study rooms and computer labs available, prepare to spend hours getting some much-needed work done. But all work and no play is never any good. Take advantage of its prime location by heading up to either the fourth or fifth floor and taking in the sweeping views of the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin headlands. Good luck getting back to studying after that. // 530 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco; library.ucsf.edu

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Since its formal opening in 2002, AAMLO has served as a space for preserving both the oral history and various artifacts of the African American experience in California. Inside this branch of the Oakland Public Library you'll be amazed by its unique archival collection, including over 160 digital, oral, and film documentations of prominent social and political organizations, families, and churches. While exploring this history hub, make sure to check out traveling exhibitions that regularly take place on the second floor. // 659 14th St, Oakland; oaklandlibrary.org

(Photo via Campus Encounters)

Popularly referred to as the “Harry Potter room" by students, the Del Santo Reading Room is tucked away on the second floor East wing of the University of San Francisco's Lone Mountain campus. From its antique bookcases, to the rows of original wooden desks, this small-scale library screams Ivy League. Featuring medieval architecture, including ornate wall beams, sculpted decorative pillars of saints and angels, and gothic chandeliers, this intimate reading room is one of USF's best kept secrets. If you stay late enough, you might even see the ghost of the nun that is said to haunt the campus. // 2800 Turk Blvd, San Francisco; usfca.edu

(Photo via Hearst Castle)

Sitting on 127 acres of lush and scenic land, George Hearst and architect Julia Morgan certainly built Hearst Castle to impress. With 165 rooms to explore, this extravagant home holds elegant master suites, social rooms, and studies throughout; but, the showstopper of this estate is located upstairs. Mr. Heart's library is over eighty feet long and houses over 4,000 books. The library also holds his most prized treasures: his collection of 150 ancient Greek vases. Vintage furniture and antique desks fill up the space while bookcases line the walls. Impeccably-painted details decorate the ceilings and trim throughout the study. Stepping inside this library is akin to stepping inside a real life version of Clue, just try not to get lost. // 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon; hearstcastle.org

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