Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite fictional libraries

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

They’re all the rage; hidden libraries, secret libraries, magical ones, forbidden archives and lost collections. They’re locations and plot fuel for books, stories, movies and television shows. And we all have our favorites.

Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library, in the series of the same name, spans realities and dimensions; some libraries, like the Vatican Archives in Dan Brown’s ROBERT LANGDON series, are firmly rooted in one world, but go back centuries. One of the most popular libraries, the library at Alexandria, has been gone longer than it existed, but it still grabs our imaginations.

What is your favorite library or archive? And let’s look across media; you can cite collections from books, video games, television or movies. And let’s not get too picky about defining “library;” the group of people in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 definitely qualifies.

Two of my favorites are: the titular repository in The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, and, on the old NBC show Grimm, Aunt Marie’s trailer.

Let’s hear about yours! One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book of their choice from the Fantasy Literature Library.


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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17 comments

  1. The Library from “The Library of Mount Char” is an interesting one. However, I have to mention the library from “The Nevernight Chronicle” trilogy by Jay Kristoff. The Athenaeum, or the Library of Niah, is the ever-growing library at the Red Church. This library is different from other ones in that it contains books that were destroyed, lost to time, or haven’t been written (for whatever reason). The librarian is a man named Aelius, and he’s the only person who can roam the library without the fear of getting eaten by the “book worms,” the guardians of the Athenaeum. Yes, readers cannot venture into this library by themselves. That’s what makes it so intriguing to me! Can you imagine a library like that in existence, but it’s too dangerous to visit?!

    And yes, I reviewed the entire trilogy (on my blog)! The series is worth reading!!!

    • Nichole Dearing /

      As much as the Unseen University library strikes me as the most quirky and classic, I have to say the library in Gormenghast. Mervyn doesn’t give it much of a chance to develop into anyplace well-defined or familiar, but the description he did provide was exquisite as usual and the scenes depicting the books’ horrible treacherous fates are enthralling and unforgettable. Just don’t forget that you aren’t an owl.

  2. The Merril Science Fiction Collection in Toronto, housed in the Lillian H. Smith library on College Street.
    https://torontosavvy.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/osborn8.jpg

  3. I have to go with the human library from Fahrenheit 451. The first time I read the story I really liked the idea of people memorizing books to save them.

  4. I love the library in The Magicians. Libraries are often depicted in fiction as saviors and protectors, but in this Series it is just as flawed as the characters.

  5. John Smith /

    I would like a library like the one at Sledmere House — glazed bookcases set into the walls are a nice solution to the whole “furniture” and “dust” issue, and the Robert Adams room design is a nice plus!

  6. Noneofyourbusiness /

    Well, of course, there’s the library in Sunnydale High School in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, where the Scooby Gang hangs out and Giles keeps all his tomes.

  7. Kelly Lasiter /

    For sentimental reasons, I definitely need to throw in the Beast’s library from the Disney movie! Also fun are the Library of Stars from October Daye and Barrons’ bookstore in the Fever series.

  8. The Distinguished Professor /

    “A Song of Ice and Fire” has old libraries in both Castle Black and the Citadel with some interesting histories in them.

  9. Lady Morar /

    It was neat when Bastian in The Neverending Story uncovered a library in the Silver City of Amarganth filled with all his stories.

  10. The library of the Unseen University. Complete with Librarian and L-Space.

  11. As much as the Unseen University library strikes me as the most quirky and classic, I have to say the library in Gormenghast. Mervyn doesn’t give it much of a chance to develop into anyplace well-defined or familiar, but the description he did provide was exquisite as usual and the scenes depicting the books’ horrible treacherous fates are enthralling and unforgettable. Just don’t forget that you aren’t an owl.

  12. Victoria Hannah /

    It’s not a fictional library but it appears in a fictional book so it counts…The Bodleian in the All Soul’s Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. It’s a real place made so magical by her writings.

    For TV I also have to add a place that’s less a library than a repository of books. The Bookhouse in Twin Peaks, the secret meeting place of the Bookhouse Boys. It quite literally is a cabin filled with books for the Boys to meet in.

  13. The Palanaeum from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.

  14. Traveling Cloak, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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