Politicians, Birmingham City Council officials and advisers spent almost £11,000 of taxpayers' money on factfinding trips looking at libraries including nearly £600 on a day trip to Leicester.
Extensive travel over three-and-a-half-years included major public libraries in England as well as in Canada, the US, Singapore and Egypt.
All but one of the 17 visits was ordered by the council's former Labour leadership to provide design ideas for a planned new library for Birmingham.
A financial breakdown of visits by the Library of Birmingham Steering Group, obtained by The Birmingham Post, shows the most expensive trip was a five-day excursion to Vancouver and Seattle in July, 2002.
The visit, by Ian Ward, then Labour cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, and John Dolan, the assistant director of library and information services, cost £2,676.
A four-day trip two months later to Singapore by Coun Ward and Mr Dolan cost £2,021.
A three-day trip in December 2002 to Alexandria, in Egypt, by Conservative libraries spokesman Coun John Hood and Brian Gambles, the acting head of the Central Library, cost £1,336.
However, visits closer to home also clocked up a hefty bill.
A trip to the National Space Centre in Leicester, about 45 miles from Birmingham, cost £559 for nine people. A visit to the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in July, 2002, cost £580 for 11 people.
Less than a year later, the council organised a second trip to the Norfolk and Norwich library to "explore IT issues". The return trip, however, cost only £19.
Consultants employed by the council to advise on the library project attended most of the trips, including staff from the Richard Rogers Partnership, which had been appointed by the council's former Labour leadership to design a £180 million library at Eastside.
The project was dropped earlier this year by the council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which intends to build a lending and reference library in Centenary Square and an archive and family history centre at Eastside.
Library of Birmingham research visits between July 2001 and December 2004 took in The British Library, Kew Public Record Office, Essex Public Record Office, the national Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library (twice), the Peckham Public Library, Bournemouth Public Library, Stratford Public Library in London, the Natural History Museum (twice), the Imperial War Museum of the North and John Rylands University Library in Manchester.
International visits concentrated on new libraries in run-down areas, regarded as drivers of regeneration, including Vancouver iand Alexandria.
Coun Ward (Lab Shard End) said each trip had been an essential part of a necessary and complex exercise to analyse the best libraries in the world.
He added: "We were planning a 21st century library for Birmingham. It was necessary to find out what was going on elsewhere in the world."