Hold onto your reading glasses. On April 6, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA) announced this year’s picks for the best new libraries in the world. The facilities were honoured for their multi-use and environmentally-friendly designs — not to mention their stunning appearance. One caveat: While projects could be located anywhere in the world, only architects licensed in the US could enter the competition. From Boston to Latvia, here are the winners of this year’s Library Building Awards. The main branch of the Boston Public Library got a serious redesign over the last year. What was once a “stone bunker,” according to the AIA, is now a light-filled plaza that connects both wings of the library and adjoins a 340-seat auditorium. At the nearby East Boston Branch Library, light pours in through the high glass windows. Out front, stormwater can collect to nourish the newly-planted rain garden. The column-free reading room features light wood construction and plenty of open space to roam through the aisles as staff enjoy long sightlines to stay on top of everything. The National Library of Latvia, at almost 600,000 square feet, is an imposing piece of architecture. The atrium, with its soaring wall of books donated by Latvian residents, connects visitors to each floor via a single staircase. How a HK$287 million library can help solve Hong Kong’s storage problems – and preserve precious books The Columbus Metropolitan Library, located in Ohio, combines design forms with a metal-covered facade amid lush lawns. In addition to letting light in through floor-to-ceiling windows, the building displays real-time energy use through LED screens scattered throughout. The branch of the New York Public Library in Stapleton, Staten Island was once a single-room facility. Today, its original room serves as the children’s library, while the extended portion contains open-plan reading spaces for kids, teens, and adults. Renovations of Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center in New Orleans were funded entirely through FEMA. The funding helped restore the 6,300-square-foot facility to modernize its design and build a kitchen and cafe. At the University of Oregon, the Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library combines a brutalist exterior with softer features within. The library’s courtyard offers a forest-like feel, calming stressed-out students and mirroring Oregon’s natural environment. Virginia’s tobacco barns inspired the design for the Varina Area Library, primarily in the creation of cascading roofs. Meanwhile, the interior is pared-down and minimal. There are an equal mixture of wide-open spaces and quiet nooks for any of the 300,000 local cardholders to duck into.