Happy National Library Card Sign Up Month!
So, first things first, how many of you have a card for your local library?
I hope all of our trusty Hub readers raised their hands with enthusiasm! After all, having a library card is cooler than being cool, as the 2015 honorary chair Snoopy himself tells us. Besides, a library is a gateway to a host of free and fabulous resources! If you haven’t had the chance to saunter on down to your local public library and receive your very own library card, take advantage of this celebration’s last couple weeks to investigate the process.
But if you need a reminder of just why libraries are in fact so cool, check out these examples of excellent and awe-inspiring fictional libraries.
The Hogwarts Library from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
What library fan could resist the cavernous and mysterious space full of magical texts detailing everything from how to take care of baby dragons to the secrets behind the creation of dangerous potions? The Hogwarts Library is located on the fourth floor of Hogwarts castle and contains thousands upon thousands of books. The space is divided into many specific sections, including the Restricted Section–a roped off area which requires a signed note from a professor to access. As far as we know, the librarian is the stern Madam Irma Pince. Additionally, the library is the site of quite a lot of significant moments and discoveries for Harry, Ron, and Hermione during their time at Hogwarts; it’s clearly a cool place to hang out–or at least a good place to conduct research on dark secrets and even darker magic. After all, as Ron so wisely states in his description of Hermione’s particular approach to problems, “When in doubt, go to the library.”
The Library of the Clayr from the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix
This next library is equally magical, if perhaps somewhat lesser known. In Garth Nix’s Lirael, readers enter the mysterious and fascinating world of the Clayr–the majority female branch of the magical Charter bloodline who possess the ability to See into the future. Deep within the Clayr’s Glacier lies the labyrinthine Library, shaped like a downward shrinking spiral and containing books, documentations of the Clayr’s activities and visions, an array of intriguing mundane and magical artifacts, and at least one dangerous Free Magic Elemental. Each librarian receives a set of specific equipment upon beginning work at the Library, including a whistle, a clockwork magic emergency mouse, magic-infused dagger, and a bracelet spelled to unlock door accessible to her particular librarian rank. Who wouldn’t want to explore the twisting stacks and hidden caverns of such a library–especially with such exciting tools in hand?
Sunnydale High School Library from Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series
While the Clayr’s Library might be located in the depths of a cool glacial complex far from the rest of civilization, the Sunnydale High School Library rests directly on top of the Sunnydale, California Hellmouth, an area where barriers between Earth and various hell dimensions are weak and vulnerable to the creation of portals between such dimensions. This unique location attracted both its unusual librarian, the Watcher Rupert Giles, and its most regular patrons, Slayer Buffy Summers and her group of allies & friends affectionally known as the Scooby Gang. Before its unfortunate destruction, the Sunnydale High Library acted as a research center, refuge, a storage space for weapons & magical artifacts, and headquarters for the teenage Vampire Slayer and her team as they battled the forces of evil–and the pains of adolescence. In other words, it seems like an ideal high school library.
The Library – Doctor Who, “Silence in the Library” and “The Forest of the Dead”
This next library certainly takes the cake in terms of sheer volume. After, even with their magical expansions, none of the previous archives cover an entire planet. In Season 4 of Doctor Who, fans of the British sci-fi phenomenon were introduced to a bibliophile’s dream– The Library. The Tenth Doctor and his companion, Donna Noble, land in the 51st century on the universe’s greatest library–an entire planet devoted to the storage and safekeeping of knowledge, containing every book ever published. Of course, during the Doctor’s visit The Library is under attack by Vashta Nerada, carnivorous creatures that dwell in shadows and seem likely to be the real reason everyone’s a little afraid of the dark. But with that problem cleared up, what’s to stand in the way of a true library adventurer from investigating the planet’s countries of book shelves? Other than the complication of acquiring transport through time and space, of course.
Shermer High School Library – The Breakfast Club (1985)
While it might not be the size of a planet or contain any particularly magical volumes, the library in the fictional Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois possesses its own unique allure. Beyond its notably large size and somewhat inexplicable decor of towering abstract sculptures, the Shermer High Library stands out from the average public school library purely for its role in one of the most iconic films about adolescence currently in existence: The Breakfast Club. In this 1985 classic, five students from divergent social groups end up at school on a Saturday to serve detention in the library. While the motley crew does occasionally escape to race around the school’s empty halls, the majority of the movie’s action (i.e. intense emotional conversations and occasional dancing) takes place amidst the library’s stacks. And after all, what better place than a library to discover that you are not alone in your teenage angst and confusion? Whether you’re finding your people among other library regulars or seeing your own fears, pain, or joys reflected back at you from the pages of a book, a great library can be that critical source of connection that makes adolescence bearable.
What pop culture libraries make you want to dance?
Share some of your favorites in the comments!
-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power written by Ryan North and illustrated by Erica Henderson