In my experience, if there’s one thing book lovers have in common, (besides the obvious…), it’s a love of libraries. Plenty of quiet, comfy chairs, books stretching along shelves in every direction…what’s not to love? It’s more than that, though. Libraries are legitimately magical places filled with adventure, wonder, and crackling energy – the sort of place where anything can happen. When I think of libraries, I go back to a few of my favorite lines from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes:
“Out in the world, not much happened. But here in the special night, a land bricked with paper and leather, anything might happen, always did. Listen! This was a factory of far off spices from far countries. Here alien deserts slumbered. Up front was the desk where the nice old lady…purple-stamped your books, but off away were Tibet and Antarctica, Congo.”
I still remember leaning against the stacks as a kid, books sprawled all around me, the world literally at my fingertips. For me, there’s never been anything quite like it, and I’d wager a lot of you feel the same. As much as I love actual libraries, there are more than a few fictional ones I’d love the opportunity to set foot in. Here are some favorites.
Garrison Oaks Library
While not necessarily the safest or gentlest example of library spaces, the books and knowledge held in the twelve sections of this library are among the most fascinating, powerful, and dangerous imaginable. Exercise caution, though: The librarians can be a tad overzealous.
J. K. Rowling
No visit to Hogwarts would be complete without a stop at this particularly magical library. Want to know something about dragons? Curious about invisibility? The Hogwarts library has you covered. Occasionally the books have a mind (and teeth…) of their own, but this seems like a small price to pay.
Jorge Luis Borges
The Library of Babel
Borges’s library, from his classic short story, The Library of Babel, imagines the library as an infinite, labyrinthine construct – a veritable universe, where all books, written and unwritten, exist. It’s a bibliophile’s dream.
Can you imagine a library that contains every book anyone has ever dreamed of writing? Fortunately, Neil Gaiman already has. Behold Lucien’s Library, from Gaiman’s iconic comic book series, Sandman. Perhaps the best part? You can read anything, regardless of the language its written in.
The Library at the Unseen University
While I’d really love to get into L-Space, I’ll happily settle for perusing the endless shelves at the Unseen University Library. We might even venture a search for the Lost Reading Room. The Librarian – who is also an orangutan — can be a bit curmudgeonly and overprotective of his charges, but he’s also a prodigious napper, so it balances out.
Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World
Edited by Maria Tatar
The Beast’s Library
What kid could watch “Beauty and the Beast” and not think about sliding down the stairway railings or along one of the rolling ladders in the Beast’s library? When you factor in the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, the gorgeous architecture, and the fireplace, it almost makes being imprisoned by a misanthropic and misunderstood Beast worth it.
The Lord of the Rings: Part One
The Rivendell Library
This one would be worth spending an afternoon in for the views as much as the reading material. Open and airy, situated in the midst of the elven city of Rivendell, imagine cozying up on the balcony with a few Middle Earth legends. It really doesn’t get much better.
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One
George R. R. Martin
The Citadel Library
While not much of a presence in the novels, the library at the Citadel in “Game of Thrones” is a breathtaking site for any book lover. Shelves stretch up the walls several floors above and below the entryway with an intricate web of ladders connecting each. Add in the sure-to-be-fascinating-and-bloody histories of the Seven Kingdoms, and you have one of the most intriguing libraries in fiction.
Derry Public Library
This one requires a very specific set of circumstances. I want to see the Derry Public Library through the eyes of a young Ben Hanscom in 1958 – a glorious place of “murmuring quiet,” light that shines in “lazy pools thrown by chain-hung globes,” and books with a “spicy smell, faintly fabulous.” You should obviously be on the lookout for clowns, though.
Ray’s Occult Books, as seen in “Ghostbusters 2”
Technically, this isn’t a library, but a great book store is a pretty close relative. As an avowed fan of all things “Ghostbusters,” I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide or Spates Catalog. Word has it, you might just be able to snag a copy of The Necronomicon as well.
A Thursday Next Novel
The Great Library
Who hasn’t wanted to step into their favorite story and roam around for awhile, or inhabit a world where literary characters can literally come alive? Well, look no further than the Great Library of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. There are 52 seemingly endless floors, a cheeky librarian, and books you can literally get lost in.
The Library as seen in “Doctor Who”
This is an actual planet-sized library with every book ever written. There’s really nothing else to say.