5 Fictional Libraries We’d Love to Visit

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind

Hey, we don’t have to tell you that libraries are special. We’re all book lovers here, we know what it’s like to walk into a space full of books knowing we’ll leave with an entire armload. But reading about libraries—that’s a different kind of fun, especially when the characters in the stories share our kinship with books. Here are 5 literary libraries we’d love to spend an afternoon or ten exploring:

Matilda’s local library (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)
The library in this story isn’t magical or even particularly remarkable, but it’s the place where one of our favorite readers fell in love with books. Though most of us didn’t go to an elementary school with a cartoonishly evil principal, we can all relate to Matilda’s excitement about reading. We can’t help but identify with the feeling of finding friends in books, of leaving reality behind in favor of something more splendid and hopeful. Mrs. Phelps the librarian was one of the first to recognize Matilda’s incredible talent (or whatever it is that could make a four-year-old love Dickens), and so sweetly encouraged her to take books home.

The Miskatonic University Library (The works of H.P. Lovecraft)
A university library full of occult works? Count us in! Lovecraft refers to this fictional library several times throughout his body of work, located on a Massachusetts campus at a university as prestigious as any Ivy League school. What kind of occult books are contained within this library? The most famous is the Necronomicon—the book that tells how to raise the “great old ones” (e.g., Cthulhu and other abominations). Another tells of ancient cults that worshipped pre-human deities, while yet another is written by an actual sorcerer.

The library at Hogwarts (Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling)
Is there a better way to draw attention to something than to put a Restricted sign on it? There’s nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking into the Hogwarts’ library’s restricted section with Harry for the first time, to read forbidden books to learn secrets of the magical world. It’s the place where our trio retreats to read up on their problems, as if Harry, Hermione, and Ron weren’t endearing enough already.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
In this ethereal novel, young Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a large library full of out-of-print titles. Anyone who enters the library must take a book and, according to the curator, Isaac, protect it for life. Isaac tells Daniel that each of the books there were loved so dearly, it’s as though they have souls. The secrecy and implicit brotherhood of those who know about the Cemetery make it a place any reader would love to browse. We want to be invited in to see which forgotten book will speak to us, and to then take it home and make it part of our own story.

Elrond’s Library at Rivendell (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
We love the library at Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings series, as brought to life in the Peter Jackson films. It’s a beautiful library containing all kinds of wonderful nooks and places to read, and some of the most important events in the series take place there.  It’s open to the elements (which doesn’t damage the books—we credit elf magic), so you can bask in a summer breeze while you peruse the shelves. And can you imagine what kind of cool stories and texts are kept on an elvish bookshelf?

Which fictional library would you most love to visit?

  • Elane Nunley

    The Beast’s library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

  • jcbookmaster

    The library in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

  • saundra

    The Library in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series!

  • Cathey

    Absolutely the Cemetery of Forgotten Books from The Shadow of the Wind!!!

    • Tim Sroka

      I agree, it sounded like a GREAT library

  • krystolla

    Dream’s library in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The Unseen university library on Discworld is a close second.

    • Johanna

      Yes!!! Those were my top 2 as well. I would just prefer not to be turned into an ape by leaking magic in UU :P

  • MN Girl

    The de Clermont’s library from the All Souls Trilogy.

  • Rebecca

    The Library that is an entire planet in Doctor Who

    • Jasmin

      As long as you stay out of the shadows.

  • A. Martin

    The Infinity Library in the manga/anime, “Magical Lyrical Girl Nanoha” It has libraries and collections with the Library! Also, the Mahora Academy’s library in the manga/anime “Magi Magister Negima” (the school has a Library Club, and they explore the library!) and Yomiko Readman’s private library/collection from the anime/manga, “Read or Die” would be pretty awesome to see!!! :)

  • Michael D. Hofer

    Just for quick consideration: The ancient Alexandrian Library, The Unseen University library on DiscWorld, and the Library from the movie “Librarian”. All of these libraries are one and the same, you know, it just depends on which entrance you use.

  • Valerie Wiechmann

    Saetan’s Library at Ebon Askavi in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. ^_^

  • Tim Sroka

    The library in Richard Brautigan’s book “The Abortion: An Historical Romance.”

  • Deb Tyo

    Mr. Lemoncello’s library! (Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein)

  • RedAgent14

    The Biggest Library in the World from Doctor Who (yes, the Doctor refers to it as that). As long as there is a closing time, everything should be fine.

  • Jen White

    The New York Circulating Material Repository in “The Grimm Legacy” and “The Wells Bequest”

  • pablo

    Not a single reference to the Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, what a shame for nowadays readers!