Appreciate Libraries in a Totally New Way

Where would science fiction and fantasy fans be without libraries? April is Library Appreciation Month, with the 16th being Librarian Appreciation Day, and these are holidays worth celebrating! Not only are libraries invaluable to the reader, but as institutions and places, they themselves have come to figure in fantastical stories. Take a look at some of these fictional libraries and the worlds that surround them; whether you’re young or old, there’s always a magical book to discover!

For Children:

Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series, beginning with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, doesn’t just have a library as a setting- it has a library as a character! Specifically, “A-Through-L” is a wyverary: half wyvern, half library. This dragon-ish creature is a good-natured sort, and he comes with a family made up of beasts and book-hybrids. Who else but a being who is half-library could quest across a place as bizarre as fairyland and come back for more?

Libraries and librarians can clearly be powerful forces for good, but they can also turn their power towards evil! So it is in Brandon Sanderson’s young adult novel Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians. ‘Alcatraz’ doesn’t refer to the famous prison but to an awkward orphan named Alcatraz Smedry, who finds himself thrust into a battle against an evil conspiracy of librarians attempting to control the world by rewriting it. They say that books are magic, but sometimes that’s literal!

Library of the Sapphire Wind uses its titular library as the object of a heroic journey. Does it even still exist anymore after its reported destruction? And will it help the young Meg, Peg and Teg take care of themselves in a strange new world and find out what brought them there? The series Over Where takes its name from the unknown lands the children must navigate, and the library is only the start of their exciting problems.

For Adults:

The Library of the Unwritten, the first book in the Hell’s Library series, seizes on a concept familiar to all book-lovers: the book that was begun but never finished. The Library of the Unwritten, a “neutral” spot in hell, houses these books, and its librarians have to do more than just keep the collection in order- they also have to keep any roving characters where they belong. Angels, demons and fiction heroes all clash when brought together, and the Head Librarian has to leave this sacred space to set everything right.

The Midnight Library is another book about otherworldly books and their appreciators, but it takes a very different path. The books contained in this library detail the lives we could have lived if we had made different choices or gone through different circumstances. Is the chance to read these books a blessing or a curse? How much more compelling would a book be if you were the main character, and the events within were just out of reach?

Librarians who work at the Invisible Library have uniquely odd duties as spies and even time-travelers. In the installment The Untold Story, librarian Claire delves into the history of the library itself, seeking the truth behind why it was created. She might have to perform a bit of assassination on the way, unless she can find a way out of it. This tale of fantasy brings ancient mythology into a new venue, appropriately enough for a celebration of recorded history and fiction!


By: Mira G.

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