Originally published in Spanish in 1941, The Library of Babel was part of Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges’ book of stories El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths). Borges imagined a world made up of a library that contained every book that ever was and ever will be:
The Library is arranged non-hierarchically; all of the volumes — from the most rudimentary to the most inscrutable — are equally important in this infinite space. Its rooms are hexagons. Its staircases are broken.
The Library’s many visitors — elated, dogmatic and anguished types are all represented — strangle one another in the corridors. They fall down air shafts and perish. They weep, or go mad. Desperate characters hide in the bathrooms, “rattling metal disks inside dice cups,” hoping to mind-read the call number for a missing canonical text. Others, overcome with “hygienic, ascetic rage,” stand before entire walls of books, denouncing the volumes, raising their fists. (Kate Bernheiner from Places’ Fairy Tale Architecture Series)
According to Wikipedia:
The Library contains at least books. (The average large library on Earth at the present time typically contains only several million volumes, i.e., on the order of about books. The world’s largest library, the Library of Congress, has books.)
Places Journal explored The Library of Babel as a part of their fairy tale architecture series, in which they explore how the ordinary yet impossible architecture of the Library could be constructed for the “real” world. It includes some stunning images architects Rice+Lipka created for the project.