Monday, September 18, 2017

The Most Underrated Libraries of Fandom

In the words of Evelyn Carnahan (from The Mummy), “Look, I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am...I am a librarian.” I can’t help but agree. And as a librarian, it’s a requirement—part of my job in fact—to enjoy reading and find pleasure in the place where I work.

A library has always been a fascinating place for me, even before I could read. Think about it. Essentially, a library is a safe haven for those who seek shelter, community, entertainment, adventure, and an escape. Getting tangled in a story, getting so entrenched in the narrative that you come to find that the characters are friends, that the setting feels like home, that the sentence structure is as much of a thrill to experience as a roller coaster (at least for me), is pure, abundant magic. It’s a snatch of childhood imagination.

Below, I’ve listed a few libraries in fiction that aren't mentioned as often and have captured my heart.

Night Vale Public Library (Welcome to Night Vale)

I start this list with the most terrifying library of all, Night Vale Public Library, an extremely important and fascinating place in the podcast and now book titled Welcome to Night Vale. If you haven’t listened to or read Welcome to Night Vale, I beg you to check it out now! It’s both unnerving and hilarious, creepy yet creative.

And the public library is one of the best parts about it. Here is just a sample as to why:
“The search for truth takes us to dangerous places,” said Old Woman Josie. “Often it takes us to that most dangerous place: the library. You know who said that? No? George Washington did. Minutes before librarians ate him.”

And it’s absolutely true! I...I mean, no. Librarians are harmless. And I certainly don’t bite (much).

Even if you ignore the man-eating librarians, what’s also fun is how destructive the library is and how some citizens find themselves "hoping that the faceless spectre puts the library to the same mysterious, violent end as its many victims."

Wan Shi Tong's Library (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Avatar the Last Airbender has a delightful way of world building. Its landscapes, its bending, its culture, all are intriguing and immersive. Of course, even the afterlife is interesting, especially when we take a look at the Spirit World, which is basically an alternate plane of reality that exists on top of the Mortal World.

As the Avatar, Aang is sometimes able to cross into the Spirit World, making it possible for Team Avatar to visit Wan Shi Tong’s Library, a massive underground structure bent on preserving the world’s knowledge. At one point, the library was open to all mortals, but after they foolishly used that knowledge for destructive means, the spirit guarding the library closed it off.

Could you imagine a vast collection of ancient knowledge (advanced knowledge) and being able to explore it? Heck, I would run straight for philosophy, literature, folktales, and the waterbending scrolls (fingers crossed I would be a waterbender).

Mr. Dewey’s Library (The Pagemaster)

In the movie The Pagemaster, a boy named Richard finds adventure in Mr. Dewey’s Library. In such a library, one would find themselves sucked into classic literature and thrown into dangerous situations. However, the fun part about it all is that you would have sentient books (all representing a different genre) as guides!

Any library might take you away from reality, but this one truly immerses you in the fantastical! And what’s more exciting than a place that offers you both knowledge and a place to test your grit?

Matilda’s Public Library (Matilda)

There is nothing extraordinary about this library. It doesn’t result in an endless list of missing persons, it doesn’t hold precious element-shifting training scrolls, and it doesn’t make books literally start speaking to you.

But it is still just as magical, just as important.

Matilda is a genius but also neglected and in her search to occupy herself finds her way to the public library. There she discovers books! She discovers stories, something that, at the heart of them, are the most magical of all. Stories, it’s been proven, help us digest facts much easier. They help keep our society alive, passing down tales about relatives, cultures, and customs. Stories are bits of magic, activating our imagination to the extent that we are able to conjure up whole worlds and civilizations!

A girl who had nothing, now has everything.

I can relate. I remember plopping down into a worn armchair and losing myself in tales of terror, stories of sadness, legends of love. Most of all, I remember that the library, with all its books, taught me how to accept those who were different from myself, taught me how to hope unflinchingly in the face of desolation, taught me to believe in true magic.

What is your favorite fictional library?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if this counts, but I appreciate that every single book in 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' includes a library in some capacity. I'd also love to visit the Hogwarts Library, the library in the Beast's Castle, and the library in the TARDIS!