We like to think of books as metaphorical spaceships, able to transport us into the head of an interesting person or across the galaxy. But these gorgeous libraries, with their elegant, modern interior designs, look almost ready to truly blast into space.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the part of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, designed by Gordon Bunshaft, of the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, completed in 1963.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a library and cultural center built as a commemoration of the legendary Library of Alexandria, designed by Snøhetta, inaugurated in 2002

Spain Library (Biblioteca España), Medellín, Colombia, three black stone-like buildings designed by Giancarlo Mazzanti, opened in 2007

Biblioteca José Vasconcelos, Mexico City, Mexico, designed by Alberto Kalach, opened in 2006

Liyuan Library, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, designed by Li Xiaodong, 2011. The one-story building is covered in firewood and has stepped inside platforms

Vennesla Library and Culture House, Vennesla, Norway, designed by Helen & Hard, opened in 2011

Kanazawa Umimirai Library, Kanazawa, Japan, designed by Kazumi Kudo and Hiroshi Horiba from Coelacanth K&H Architects, a concrete building punctured with about 6,000 holes

Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany, designed by Yi Architects, opened in 2011

University of Aberdeen New Library, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom, designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassan Architects, opened in 2012