Today is National Libraries Day in the UK, which is obviously brilliant.
Libraries are one of the few Greatest Inventions of All Time, along with microwavable mug cakes, dry shampoo and the unfollow option on Facebook. They allow anyone to take home books – or as Sam from iCarly calls them, ‘TV in your head’ – and to read them, learn from them, fall in love with them, then bring them back so someone else can enjoy them too. ALL FREE OF CHARGE.
While my Twitter timeline is currently filled with writers, publishers, celebrities and general book lovers singing the praises of their local library services, I thought instead I’d show some love for the libraries I wish existed IRL. Because let’s face it, with hundreds of UK libraries closing in the last five years and all the gorgeous library buildings being turned into coffee shops, bars and affordable housing for very very rich people who hate books, we could all learn a thing or two from our fictional counterparts.
Also, libraries in fiction are basically fiction-ception. So there’s that.
1. Hogwarts Library
The paradise of the Potter generation, you’d be lying if you said you hadn’t dreamed of sneaking into the Restricted Section to find a dirty curse for lols. This ancient collection of words from the wizarding world has saved Harry, Ron and Hermione from all manner of magical cock-ups. Without Madam Pince breathing down their necks they would never have found out what a Basilisk was, Krum would never have asked out Hermione, and Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom would be Polyjuice Potion-free. Not to mention the time the library saved the whole bloody plot by telling us what a Philosopher’s Stone was. Official Warner Bros fact for you: most of the books in Dumbledore’s office were leather-bound telephone directories during filming. This library is so magical even film wizardry can’t replicate it.
2. The Library from Doctor Who
Brushing aside the creepy shadows that live inside the book pages and will strip flesh from your bones like a 3am Chicken Cottage connoisseur eating a chicken leg, this library is pretty awesome. Essentially, it’s an entire planet built during the 50th century that contains every book ever written. For the time-travelling Doctor this meant spoilers galore, but for any book lover it means SEE YA EARTH I’VE FOUND A NEW PLACE TO LIVE. There’s also a hard drive which stores all the books as a virtual reality and serves as an index system, if you really want to get down and nerdy.
3. Sunnydale High Library
When Buffy’s not giving her body a workout by slaying vampires and all that, she’s giving her mind a workout at the good old school library. The home of sexy librarian Giles who believes in all the supernatural weirdness other teachers couldn’t care less about, Buffy and co always seem to find the right book on werewolves/witches/shapeshifters/boogiemen tucked away on its shelves. Because you know that when you live on top of a Hellmouth, Google just isn’t equipped to deal with that shit.
4. Matilda’s library
This is why libraries are so damn great. Four-year-old Matilda, left alone at home by parents who act like they’d rather they birthed a TV than an adorable little girl, finds comfort, solace and above all fun in the books she borrows. Heroic Mrs Phelps recommends books and gives her an advanced reading list, demonstrating how fantastic librarians are in fiction and in real life. Both the book and the film have some gorgeous, heart-warming lines that I can’t even joke about, they’re so lovely – ‘so Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone’. OK, who’s cutting onions in the library??????
5. Belle’s library
The Mothership. The Crown Jewel. The Ultimate #LibraryGoals. The Reigning Queen of the fictional libraries. Hell, I think anyone would snog a beast if they were gifted this beautiful, elegant, multi-storied palace of learning. Or they’d at least give him a great book recommendation, which as we all know is the definitive act of true love.