A magical library is a mystical library that is explicitly magical or is infused with magic. These libraries tend to be small and hidden in a remote area. They usually contain dangerous and forbidden spells, arcane Spell Books
and priceless Ancient Artifacts
. They also may have supernatural books such as Tomes of Prophecy and Fate
and Tome of Eldritch Lore
. The libraries also might be home to monsters, creatures and Magic Librarians
that are there to protect the library. The library might be quite old, and may even be as old as the universe itself.
Because these things are valuable - and it would be disastrous if these items were to fall into the wrong hands - these libraries are usually almost impossible to find without a special map, not to mention being well-guarded. The objects that allow the library's location to be found are sometimes scattered across the world. The heroes and villains alike might have to engage in a Gotta Catch Them All
plot in order to have access to the library's valuable information.
If the magical library is easily accessible for most people, it's usually part of a school. The protagonists may regularly visit the school library to find out how to solve a problem or gain information about the current plot. Characters that are a bit more rebellious might simply steal from the library instead, setting up the main conflict.
These type of libraries tend to appear mostly in fantasy
, Urban Fantasy
and works that have a Fantasy Kitchen Sink
- Secret Government Warehouse: Both are repositories of strange and/or dangerous items, but the Secret Government Warehouse is never interested in sharing.
- Spooky Silent Library: The Spooky Silent Library need not be magical. It is, of course, perfectly possible to overlap.
Anime and Manga
- The Great Library in Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito consists of books that contain every single world of the multiverse down to the smallest detail. And it also comes with Magic Librarians.
- The appropriately-named Mysterious Library from Smile Pretty Cure!, which contains every fairy tale known to man and can be reached through a combination of book shuffling on any bookshelf.
- The Library of Spirits ("Fantasy Library") in the Read Or Dream manga has every book ever written, as reading material for the dead. However, it appears on Earth for 1 hour every 10 years, and the living may borrow one book for a 10 year period.
- Lucien's library in The Sandman. As Dream's domain includes everything conceived by the imagination, it has many books which were never written down, perhaps just coming to people as idle fancies and being immediately forgotten about.
- In Gold Digger, the Library of Time in Shangri-La can magically summon up any book ever printed in all of history.
- The Librarian films are about a librarian of this type of library. Not only does it contain legendary and magical books, but also all the world's greatest and most dangerous treasures.
- In the movie What Dreams May Come there is a library. It is massive and there is no floor, only water. People just fly to get the books. Also, it is in Heaven. In the original novel, it's explained that every kind of knowledge is available in this Library, including when someone will die. Also, it contains every book ever written, including the ones that haven't been written yet. People who are still alive can visit the Library in their dreams, but very few remember upon waking.
- Occurs in Interstellar, just replace "magic" with "Time Travel". Crossing a black hole's event horizon left the hero in a four-dimensional representation of every moment his daughter's room/library ever had.
- The library of Unseen University leads to other dimensions thanks to the sheer weight of accumulated knowledge distorting the space-time continuum. This is known as L-Space. The library itself is pretty much a universe of its own with all the magical books, library creatures such as the thesaurus or the kickstool-crab, and lost tribes of research students inside. The books meanwhile are chained to the shelves; not, as in medieval Roundworld libraries, to protect the books themselves, but to protect the readers.
- There's also Death's library of biographies, one for everyone in the world, where those for the living are still in the process of writing themselves.
- Occurs regularly as a location throughout George MacDonald's fiction, notably Phantastes, Lilith, and Alec Forbes. Even in his realistic novels, the books in the library are definitely magical.
- Harry Potter: The school library is this, especially the restricted section. In the first book, when Harry was trying to find out who Nicholas Flamel was, he sneaks in, opens a book, and it starts screaming at him, attracting Filch.
- In The Wardstone Chronicles, it's implied that all good spooks have a library with information on denizens of the dark and how to defeat them. We only specifically hear of John Gregory's and Bill Arkwright's, though.
- The Library of the Clayr from the Old Kingdom series. It's carved out of a glacier and is the largest repository of magic books and monsters around. It's kept in order by Crazy-Prepared Magic Librarians.
- The Magic Treehouse, whose books can transport the reader to the event described.
- Galaxy of Fear has a visit to Nespis 8, a Jedi-aligned Space Station that has a massive old library, old enough to be stocked with paper books. The library was actually burned years ago, and re-stocked with fakes that drain Life Energy.
- Annals Of The Western Shore: The library in the Oracle House in Voices. Its doorway is a blank wall opened with some magical gestures, and it's protected by Ansul's gods (they prevented the Waylord from betraying its location during his long torture by the Alds), plus it houses the Oracle of Ansul way in the back.
- The title story in Kelly Link's Magic For Beginners centers around an irregularly broadcast TV show called "The Library", which takes place in one of these.
- Schooled In Magic: The school library is filled with books of (and book on) magic. Emily spends a great deal of time in there for both classes as well as personal study. Eventually she even begins working as an aid to the librarian. The punishment for making noise in the library is an hour as a stone statue. This punishment is magically enforced and automatic.
- In Angel the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart has an enormous archive of supernatural info.
- The firm's "Files and Records" department has 35 full filing cabinets devoted to Angel / Angelus alone. The employee there seems to embody the department, with all the info stored in her brain.
- In a more space-efficient version, they later use some enchanted books with which you can call up anything in their archive.
- The Sunnydale High Library from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as it's run by a Watcher and directly over the Hellmouth (the heroes knew the school was built on it, but even Giles didn't know it opened right there). And it has a ton of weird magic books that Snyder totally doesn't get being there, naturally.
Religion & Mythology
- SCP Foundation, SCP-1726 ("The Library and the Pillar"). The Library has many volumes of philosophy, theology, and history from cultures that are mythological in the real world (such as Shambhalla (sic), Lemuria and Mu). It has animated statues that can speak various languages and act as guides for visitors.
- The website The Wanderer's Library (an offshoot of the SCP Foundation verse) is set around an apparent extradimensional library which houses numerous books of secret lore.
- The Akashic Records are a sort of celestial repository of all knowledge within Theosophy and some of its offshoots, including much of the New Age movement.
- The Library of Candlekeep in the Forgotten Realms has shades of this, most notably the 'arcane knowledge' part; you must donate a book to the library in order to gain access, and most of the people who wish to do so are mages who donate low-level spellbooks.
- Mage: The Ascension from White Wolf had a stat for arcane libraries.
- Mage: The Awakening also has a stat for an arcane library. In both cases the stat is called Library.
- In the Ravenloft setting, the lich-king Azalin has a library which houses the self-updating life stories of every sentient being who has ever been born in his domain of Darkon, or who's entered it and stayed long enough to lose all memory of their previous life. Destroying your own book is one of the few ways to recover from Darkon's insidious Identity Amnesia effect.
- Warhammer has many such libraries in its background. The biggest and most extensive is that maintained by the High Elf Loremasters of Hoeth in the White Tower, but each of the Imperial Colleges of Magic has its own library, and most wizards and sorcerers from the more civilized races will tend to keep their own. The realm of the Chaos God Tzeentch in the Realm of Chaos is often perceived as including a vast library, and he has even created two special Blue Horror daemons - the Blue Scribes - to traverse the multiverse and copy down knowledge of all the spells in existence for his collection.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the Black Library of the Eldar - an ancient craftworld adrift in the Webway between reality and the Warp. It contains the race's gathered knowledge of Chaos and Sorcery, and is maintained in order to better understand and combat the machinations of the Infernal Powers.
- The Grand Spellbook Tower in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is an educational research facility that has produced many excellent sorcerers who specialize in a variety of fields from means of combat to technological developments. Its library has a great collection of many "Spellbooks" with knowledge collected throughout the ages. A small portion of these books are now available to the general Spellcaster public.
- In Touhou, there's Voile, the Magical Library. Maintained by Patchouli Knowledge, who spends her days locked up inside adding to the already-massive cache of knowledge and Spell Books. While 100 straight years of this have given her anemia, asthma, and Vitamin A deficiency, you are more than likely to find anything you could ever want in there (Marisa sure does).
- According to The Elder Scrolls lore, the Daedric Prince of prophecy and fate, Hermaeus Mora, lives on a plane of Oblivion called Apocrypha, an infinite library full of Tomes of Eldritch Lore.
- Final Fantasy V gives us the Library of the Ancients, where there are possessed books, a book split in two by the splitting of the worlds, and a book that burns other books...
- The library in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, being located at a school for alchemists, is massive enough to serve as two dungeons. Of course, it's also a home to undead blobs, sorceresses, malicious fairies, fallen angels, and ghosts, including Pamela and her Teddy. Students beware.
- In the third The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC you visit Hermaeus Mora's realm by reading more of his books. It is a nightmare realm full of seas of acidic ink and fossilized books, haunted by horrificly mutated beings known as Seekers. It doesnt have all knowledge, and part of the main quest has you helping him get a bit of the missing information, but it includes some knowledge that anyone but him cant even comprehend, such as ideas rejected from the world at its creation.
- Candlekeep in Baldur's Gate has an enormous library of spellbooks and histories which are maintained and patrolled by a fanatical order of monks, as well as having at least one backup copy of the entire library in another dimension.
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracles of Ages has the Eyeglass Island Library. In the past it's locked by a key, staffed by sages, and the magical fairy powder inside is impossible to retrieve. In the present it's just a regular library. Link cannot retrieve the fairy powder in the past until he makes a Stable Time Loop.
- Papa Smurf belongs to the Wizard's Library, which contains "the most powerful spells in all the world" as he puts it. (You must be certified by the Board of Wizards to get a library card, as he tells Greedy, who expresses interest in reading the magical cookbooks the place has.) Unfortunately, in that same episode, the villain Nemesis breaks into the place's forbidden vault of black magic, the Archives of Evil.