Libraries in Literature

Tomorrow brings a brand new adventure for me. I’m starting my field experience for my library and information studies program. I’ll be spending the next two months in the land of elementary and middle school libraries. I thought it only fitting to share my favorite books that feature libraries as major elements in the story.

I reviewed The Grimm Legacy here not too long ago. The library in this tween and young adult novel houses the Grimm Collection, which is filled with fantastical objects.

I can’t mention libraries and books without bringing Garth Nix’s Lirael to mind. Lirael works in the Clayr’s library, which houses many old and somewhat forgotten things. The library can be quite dangerous, so those that work there are given a whistle to summon help.

Delia Sherman has a story in The Faery Reel called Catnyp where the catalog at the New York Public Library is really a cat. I enjoyed this alternate, rather geeky read when I was a library page.

Another library from fantasy that I love is the one run by the Cheshire Cat in Jasper Fforde’s book and genrehopping Thursday Next series. The library first appears in Lost in a Good Book. Another massive, impressive library is the L-Space found in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The librarian there at Unseen University is an orangutan. Make certain you never call him a monkey. My favorite Discworld book in terms of the Librarian is Guards! Guards!

From the realm of nonfiction, there is Don Borchert’s Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library. This is an excellent read for anybody who’s worked in public libraries or has an interest in working in them.

When I started library school several years ago I happened to discover an adorable children’s book that I then convinced my group to use in our presentation. Library Lion is a delightful introduction to libraries and how they work. Just imagine a lion at storytime. Since reading Library Lion, I have added a few more library picture books to my personal collection. These include the adorable Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library and the amusing Bats at the Library. I seem to have an animal theme going on.

The 39 clues series also features libraries as important places in many of its books, beginning with Maze of Bones. Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck is a hilarious historical fiction book for children. Librarians are villains in Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.

What are your favorite books with libraries?

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2 thoughts on “Libraries in Literature

  1. Hm. You’ve already mentioned most of my favorites, like Alcatraz and Fforde. All I can think of now is Unshelved, the webcomic about working in a library. (Check it out if you haven’t already!) And Evie from The Mummy, stating proudly (and drunkly), “I… am a LIBRARIAN.” XD

    • Shame on me for forgetting about Unshelved. Yes, I’ve read it. One of the strips that involves jousting used to be on my wall.

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