Fodor's Expert Review Centrale Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam
The Netherlands's biggest public library offers a multifarious collection of information to around 5,000 visitors per day. The €75 million building (the "bieb," as locals call it), designed by architect Jo Coenen, has a large theater, seminar and conference rooms, an art space, and an extensive music library. A superb children's section is set below a terraced central lounge area. You can make yourself comfortable in the designer furniture and peruse a mind-boggling international magazine collection. With 1,000 desks, many of them with PCs connected to the Internet, you can study and surf in peace (free for members, €1 per half hour for nonmembers). The seventh-floor restaurant, La Place, has an outside terrace with a spectacular view over the city. Another bonus is that the Amsterdam Conservatory is right next door, with regular student recitals (free).