Ready, set, read © Ron Buskirk/Alamy
In honor of National Library Week, we’re visiting Seattle Public Library’s Central Library. With its innovative glass and steel design, you could say we’ve come a long way from the world’s first libraries that housed archives of clay tablets and papyrus scrolls. Downtown Seattle’s 11-story flagship public library has lots of open spaces like this one that allow patrons to meet, study, search the web, or read in comfortable, light-filled rooms. It can house more than 1.5 million books, many of which are stored in an innovative "Books Spiral," which displays the volumes in a continuous helix of bookshelves over 3.5 stories without breaking the Dewey Decimal System onto different floors or sections. The library, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, moves all those books around by using a sorting system that resembles an airport’s luggage conveyor belt. How’s that for high-tech?