Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Favourite Fictional Libraries

It is February and rapidly approaching National Library Day (6th Feb). As you know, we at Space on the Bookshelf love all things books, and like to celebrate all who promote books and the love of reading. With that in mind, over the coming week, we have a whole host of features celebrating LIBRARIES!

We start our Library feature with a look at some of the best ever Fictional Libraries.

When it comes to fictional libraries there are so many fantastic ones to choose from. Do you go to Hogwarts? Or Aunt Elinors from Inkheart? Or possibly the non-fictional – fictional library from Matilda? There are so many fantastical libraries we at SOTB have put are heads together and come up with a list of some of the best…

The library of China Sorrows - Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

If I could wish myself between the pages, then the fictional library I would steal a visit to would be China Sorrow’s magical library in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.

What more enigmatic librarian has ever been written about that the beautiful, treacherous and talented China Sorrows? A previous worshipper of some very bad gods, she now keeps her secrets well, has been known to occasionally be useful in a fight, but mostly refuses ever to let anyone know which side she is on.

Stephanie realised why none of the doors were numbered, it was because they all led into the same room. The walls between apartments had been taken away in order to accommodate the vast number of books on the shelves. Stacks and stacks of books, a labyrinth of bookshelves that stretched from one side of the building to the other. As they followed the bespectacled man through the maze she saw more people, their attention focused on their reading, people half-hidden in shadow, people who didn’t look exactly right . .

In the middle of the library was an open space, like a clearing in a forest, and in the open space stood the most beautiful woman Stephanie had ever seen. Her hair was black as raven wings, and her eyes were the palest blue. Her features were so delicate Stephanie feared they might break if she smiled, and then the lady smiled and Stephanie felt such warmth that for an instant she never wanted to be anywhere else but at this lady’s side.

“Stop that,” said Skulduggery

The books are arranged quite differently to any other library. They are arranged in order of magical ability. Meaning the books on Magic for beginners are at one end, and books on far more advanced magic at the other. But the books can also move in response to emotions.

China Sorrows is an avid collector, using a combination of beauty and her magic to bring her new acquisitions for her library. But as the stories progress we also learn that this most intriguing and unusual of librarians also has the entire library set up to provide magical traps and clever escape routes, just in case trouble every comes to China’s door – which, of course it does, pretty regularly.

After all - she's a friend of Skulduggery Pleasant . . . or is she?

The library from The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes

This exquisitely illustrated picture book captures the warmth and inviting nature of libraries who welcome people from the whole community; including a lion.

Ordinarily, the introduction of a lion would cause commotion, but the Librarian Mrs Merriweather makes it very clear that the lion is welcome, if he abides by the rules. The lion becomes fascinated by the stories at Storytime and begins to spend all his days at the library, helping out with chores and eventually becoming a permanent and much loved feature of the library. Until that is an emergency leads to him to break the rules, and roar. Soon all is forgiven and the lion is invited back into the bosom of the library community. 

Alexandriaville’s Public Library from Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

After the original library was knocked down 12 years ago to make way for a multi-storey car park, the residents of Alexandriaville are waiting for the much anticipated opening of the new public library. Anticipation becomes excitement when it is announced that the new library is the brain child of Mr Lemoncello, the eccentric genius and world famous game maker. To make things more spectacular, Mr Lemoncello is running a competition, open only to twelve year olds, to write an essay about libraries. The prize, the first library cards and an advanced viewing of the library for the best 12 entries.

The twelve young winners enter the library for a sleep over to find that it is much more than just books. The library is a wonder of learning, with holographic Librarians, animatronic creatures, a huge computer gaming room, and even rocket boots for reaching books stored on the highest shelves. But the children become even more enthralled when it is announced they are participants in a game; to escape the library. This is no mean feat, as the library building was a former bank, and each child must follow clues, solve riddles and use the resources of the library to find a way out and win.

As a twelve year old when the new library opened up in my home town (albeit in Oxfordshire, not Ohio) I would have loved such an exciting introduction to libraries. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a thrilling and actioned pack yarn displaying clearly how much fun a library can be, and it even has resources to help teachers and librarians create their own scavenger hunts too!

“Using a library can make learning about anything (and everything) fun. When you’re in a library, researching a topic, you’re on a scavenger hunt, looking for clues and prizes in books instead of your attic or backyard.” 

The library in Pike by Anthony Mcgowan

From the fantastical to reality, the next book is one that reflects the plight and importance of libraries to communities. Anthony McGowan’s Pike, follow up to Brock, is centred around lead character Nicky who finds his local library a haven and a warm safe place to retreat. It is on one such occasion that he overhears the conversation between the Library Lady and a local council man who is planning on shutting down the library. When Nicky is asked what the library means to him, his thoughts encapsulate the importance of Libraries to many people from all walks of life.

“I wanted to say that I loved the library, that it was the best place in town, and that they should shut everything else down before the library.”

So here are just a few of our favourites. We would love to hear about your favourite fictional library, so please do leave us a comment below.

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