Libraries have always had their own kind of magic. Everyone who loves books knows this. The endless fantastical possibilities for learning, adventure, and self-discovery contained within the pages of all those rows and rows of shelves and shelves of books have a strange kind of power to both entice and enlighten. And as if real libraries weren’t amazing enough, some of the libraries I see in fiction seem to be taken right out of my bibliophilic fantasies. Here are five for which I wish I had my own library card.
The Beast’s Library (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)
This has always been my favorite scene in BatB, I think because this is the library of my dreams. It’s hard to decide what I love most about it. The huge windows, the giant globe, the fancy writing desk, the multiple levels and balconies containing loads and loads of books, more than Belle and I have ever seen in our lives. Maybe it’s the fact that the Beast gives it all to Belle, just gives it to her, because he’s gotten to know her and seen her kindness and he loves her and knows that this is something she will love… Sigh. So many feelings about this movie. Thanks, Disney.
Hogwarts Library (the Harry Potter series)
Of course a magical school would have a magical library, but this one isn’t just magical because books are magic–these books are actually magic! No more sorting through the Dewey Decimal System, or even worse, Library of Congress (does anyone understand how that system works?), to find what you want or replace the books you’ve finished. The books do it all for you! Plus, where else can you find such rare titles as Qudditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard? Not Amazon! (Actually, wait, yes, you can find them on Amazon.)
Rory Gilmore’s Library (Gilmore Girls)
As a bookworm who grew up in a tiny bedroom, I feel Rory Gilmore’s pain. When books are many but space is scarce, you have to get a little creative, and Rory does. Not limiting her book storage to just the one small bookcase she owns, Rory stores books in dresser drawers, under her bed, and anywhere else they’ll fit. Plus, she always has at least four in her school bag, with a very precise selection method.
The Library (the Doctor Who episodes “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”)
This library, “so big it doesn’t need a name,” covers an entire planet. It’s the 51st century, and even though human technology has advanced beyond our wildest imaginings, people still love good old-fashioned books, so much so that we’ve filled a whole world with brand new editions of every book ever written in human history. I find that a very comforting thought. Of course, we come to find out that the Library is also home to something not so comforting (not telling you what–spoilers!). But the opportunity to explore for months, years, decades even, and never see the same book twice would almost make it worth the risk.
The Library at Alexandria (Alexandria, Egypt until the third century C.E.)
Okay, so this one isn’t actually fictional. It was a real place; there are historical records and everything. But the Great Library is so shrouded in myth and lore, both about its contents and its demise, that it seems like something out of an ancient legend. We will probably never know how many scrolls were contained within the Library’s walls, or what knowledge was lost during the several fires and other events that eventually destroyed the collection, though it’s possible that most of the actual content of the scrolls survived in other locations.
Though we’ll never be able to physically visit any of these amazing libraries, as readers we are always going places in our minds. What do you think? Would you want to visit any of these libraries of imagination? Which ones did I miss?