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Great Big Library of Everything

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All that is written, all that never was, and all that ever might be.

From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite). Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.

A library that contains practically any possible/conceivable information source known to man or some other intelligent/sapient species, if not a multitude of intelligent species. This labyrinthian library seems to be a natural breeding spot for MacGuffins and it has just about all of life's secrets and answers. The Great Big Book of Everything, Big Book of War, Reality-Writing Book, Portal Book, Tome of Eldritch Lore, and Chronoscopes along with other things can all be found here. Because of its wealth of knowledge, the library is a very valuable information resource for the main cast. May be a Magical Library as well, which could go a long way into justifying its often unreal/absurd level of comprehensiveness.

Often times this is guarded by a Magic Librarian or other force. Sometimes there will be a struggle with another group trying to obtain the same information, sometimes in a physical fight, but just as often with a Battle of Wits. If you're lucky, you'll find what you need. If you're not, it may turn out to be a Blank Book all along.

In many works, this setting is either very hard to get to, long forgotten, or rumoured to be a myth. In sci-fi and High Fantasy works, however, the library can be quite well publicized, and it's sometimes a big tourist destination.

Please note that the library must not be split up into multiple smaller libraries but instead be a continuous entity. So you can have a huge connected library, but not a bunch of smaller branches.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Chainsaw Man, there is one inside the Cosmos fiend's mind, which she can bring other people into. Once there, she can put all of the content of all of the books in the library into the victim's mind. This, of course, completely breaks them, and for some reason the only thing they can think about after that is Halloween.
  • The Infinity Library of the Lyrical Nanoha francise has all the publications and data of every world, and has been described as containing the memories of the universe. It's so huge that nobody has cataloged even a small fraction of it, and people wanting to use it for research often form multi-week expeditions to do so. These are people who can use search magic to speed things up and read several books at once, mind you. StrikerS uses the library to put Yuuno on a bus by appointing him as the Chief Librarian. At the age of 15. ViVid reveals that the more ancient, unsorted sections contain the original storage areas of the books themselves, requiring trained personnel to scour it first for hazards before declaring it safe for people to enter.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Library Island, a city-sized underground library so massive that Mahora actually has a school club dedicated to exploring it, with standard club equipment consisting of rock climbing gear. It's known to contain books that make the holder more intelligent, golems, dragons, secluded lakes, hidden passages (also lined with bookshelves), waterfallsnote , the roots of the World Tree, and lots of booby traps.
  • The Exterior Library in Maoyu contains all known knowledge from The Multiverse, and is populated by a mysterious demon clan. The titular Demon Queen hails from that clan, and used the knowledge she learnt from within to not only claim her current position, but also kick start the equivalent of the Real Life British Agricultural Revolution in the human world. And even she does not have clearance for everything in the library. Witch Girl is eventually revealed to be a member of the same clan despite having been raised, and perhaps originally being, a human and in her side story gains access to Exterior Library.
  • The Great Celaeno Library from Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, another Mythology Gag to the Cthulhu Mythos, which the protagonists visit in the 2013 TV season. It's said to contain just about every book in the known universe, and for good measure even includes the Gaia Library (see below under Live-Action Television).
  • The creators of the first City of Gold in The Mysterious Cities of Gold had kept records of everything written "since man learned to write". Of course, that city is destroyed in the final episode, and so too are the writings.
  • The library of St. Marguerite Academy, in Gosick, is known for its vast amount of books and labyrinthine staircases. A great deal of humor derives from the fact that Kujo has to climb the stairs to reach the greenhouse at the top level, while Victorique has the privilege to use the elevator. The library is also a prolific source of urban legends among St. Marguerite Academy students. It is said that a golden fairy inhabits the top floor, and that those who step on the thirteenth step of the stairway would be cursed.
  • The academy district in the city of Lyrias in Snow White with the Red Hair hosts a series of libraries that are each stuffed with all of the books, papers and illustrations the researchers can acquire, with the kingdom requiring a copy or the original of any new papers written by it's professionals to be sent there. Since this is a setting in which most books are still written by hand these libraries are an invaluable resource.
  • Shimeji Simulation has the library that Yomikawa currently stays, which is a gigantic archive of all books written by humans across entire history. She is also revealed to be a living example of a library as she reveals to Shijima that every written book within several time periods are deeply connected to her.

    Comic Books 
  • The library of the Crystal Ballroom in Nexus contains all the historical memory of (at least the known) universe.
  • Elder of the Universe and Silver Surfer foe, the Possessor, founded the largest university and library in the Marvel Universe on the planet Rus, complete with a master computer containing his vast knowledge.
  • Fables contains a massive library so large that the foyer is large enough to be a seat of government and contain objects of mythical size (Excalibur has literally become as big as the legend of Arthur). Oddly even though it belongs to all sorts of magical creatures it's never implied to be magical in any way except for its extreme size.
  • The Library of Dream (pictured above) in The Sandman (1989) is full of those books that were conceived by their authors but never written or completed. This not only includes things like G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was October, or P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith and Jeeves, but an awful lot of books like That Romantic Comedy Sci-Fi Thriller I Used to Think About on the Bus to Work. Word of God has it that it has an annex that contains everything that actually was written, too. We just never see it because it's so tiny compared to the rest of the place.
  • Superman: The Fortress of Solitude has information from the 28 known galaxies. Supes decides to store up Earth's knowledge as well.
  • At one point Red Sonja is recruited to defend the Citadel of All Knowledge. Despite the name it's a fairly small building, but given the era and difficulties of travel it may well be the greatest collection of knowledge in the world.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Following Themyscira's return to its Paradise Island roots the already extensive Amazon Library is supplemented with records from across space and dimensions by one of their new exotic refugees. The new records are kept in a tower and are in a different storage medium than ink and paper which makes them difficult to access without their protector granting access.
  • In story arc of the 2021 Justice League Dark volume, the team follows Merlin after he uses a spell to make Borges' Library of Babel real to recreate his spellbook through it.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has a number of examples owing to the collection of canons:
    • The Hogwarts library, which is a very extensive magical library in a building that's Bigger on the Inside - though still on the milder end of this trope.
    • Asgard's libraries date back over a million years, and quite possibly well before that, since Asgard's civilisation is ancient - they've been gods for over a million years, ruled a galaxy spanning empire for a million or two before that, and only "probably" evolved after the dinosaurs went extinct.
    • Doctor Strange's library is hinted to be the most impressive, since as an immortal in the region of 500,000 years old, a frequent abuser of Time Travel, a notorious pack-rat, and a habitual thief capable of stealing the Tesseract from Asgard's highest security vaults whenever he feels like it, he's accumulated an extremely extensive library. It's also implied to be a more conventional armoury.
    • The Archive, as per The Dresden Files, is an example in the form of a young girl who has magical software in her head that records everything written down, ever. Strange is also implied to be responsible for that software, as the ultimate back-up drive for civilisation.
  • The Nuptialverse has the Keeper's library, which seems to be the sole location of her plane of existence. There's a book for every sentient being who's ever lived, containing every single detail of their lives.
  • The Imperial Archives in The Equestria Chronicles serves as one of these, holding all accumulated knowledge for the entire Earth in a 2.25 square mile room. The library itself is a cozy place, complete with fireplaces and warm lighting. It's also in the process of being digitized and stored in a nearby server room.
  • The Last Brony: Kingdom Hearts With a Black Sora has the Great Archive, which doubles as a memorial for bygone worlds.
  • The Bolt Chronicles:
    • In "The Gift," it's implied that there's some kind of nebulous all-encompassing repository of art, culture, and knowledge in Nirvana, its contents readily available for the imagining.
      Mittens: Do we get to experience any cultural or intellectual stuff? I know I'm gonna have a hankering for some good music sooner or later.
      Bolt: Absolutely. It's one of the best things about this place, actually. All you have to do is imagine it and you experience it. A Monteverdi madrigal? A Titian painting? The Amber Room? A Jane Austen novel? A Buster Keaton film? You can enjoy it all, under ideal circumstances, even things that vanished from earth for one reason or another. And all knowledge can be found, too — whatever your intellectual or artistic passion, it’s yours to call up.
    • Penny's mom has what appears to be a bottomless collection of classic pop and classical music compact discs, which is only further augmented by Penny's suddenly-appearing collection of (mostly) non-chart-oriented 70s and 80s pop music. Referenced in stories such as "The Paris Trip" and "The Ship," and lampshaded in "The Funkmeister":
      The cat hoisted herself up onto her feet. "Okay, pal. Lemme see what Penny's mom's got in that magic CD rack of hers." The two friends respectively padded and rolled off to the bookcases full of jewel-boxed discs.
  • One of the cars in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail is known as the Library of Flying Books Car. It boasts paper people, flying books and numerous books from different universes. Chloe spends a week and a half there, tending the sentient books, reading stories, writing some of her own and even celebrating her Unbirthday there.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles: Hideki Nishimura's private collection includes some of the rarest, oldest, and most valuable texts in the entire world, covering a vast swath of knowledge, with information freely shared with any scholar.

    Film — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast: Beast's castle has a huge library he shows off to Belle that seems to have about five floors worth of bookshelves. It looks notably big even by modern standards, let alone by the standards of 18th-century France (for which it might very well have every surviving book ever published up to that point based on its size). Belle is ecstatic to see so many books in one place, so Beast decides to give the library to her to read to her heart's content.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Age of Stupid: Our protagonist currently lives in the Global Archive, a massive storage place located 800 km north of Norway. It apparently contains the artwork of every museum, pickled animals stacked up two by two, and every book, film, and scientific report known to man stored on banks of servers.
  • The towering fortress-library in The Name of the Rose contains all the accumulated knowledge of ancient Europe (see Literature, below). It burns down at the end due to the bastard antagonist, forcing William of Baskerville to make a tough decision about which books to take with him. Oh, and it's also a labyrinth full of secret passageways.
  • There are a few super-libraries in the Star Wars mythos: The Jedi library seen in the prequels; an enormous data collection belonging to a former smuggler; a whole planet is devoted to being a galactic library. All three of these are implied to be the sum of all knowledge in the galaxy (or damn near, at least). To the point where when, in Attack of the Clones, gravitational calculations prove that a planet MUST exist at a certain location, yet there is no record of such a planet, the librarian believes the library's records over the laws of physics. Just to drive home the point of how complacent the Old Republic had become.

  • The book The City of Dreaming Books by German author Walter Moers takes place in the city of Bookholm. On the surface, you can buy nearly every book in existence. But in the catacombes below, if you are able to survive long enough, you can find everything ever written. Somewhere.
  • H. G. Wells argued for a prototypical version of this (combined with both the Great Big Book of Everything and a radically transformed education system) in a series of essays and lectures collected in the book World Brain. His proposal, however, speculated that microfilm, instead of books, would provide an adequate storage medium.
  • Jorge Luis Borges' short story "The Library of Babel" describes a library that contains every possible book in the universe. This library is a lot less useful than most examples of this trope, because it is incomprehensibly large. So yes, the true story of your own death is in there, but so is every conceivable false story of your own death, with nothing to distinguish them. Worse yet, the library is randomized, with no catalog or organization to help you find something specific. More than 99.999999999999999% of the books are simply gibberish — the narrator's father told him that he had once seen a book that was nothing but the letters MCVMCVMCVMCV repeated endlessly on every page.
    • Borges by his own admission modeled this library on the short story "The Universal Library" (Die Universalbibliothek, 1901) in which Kurd Laßwitz discusses and analyses the ins and outs of a hypothetical library consisting of books of a standard size containing every possible permutation of letters and spaces.
    • The number of ways the books can be arranged is 10^10^1,834,102, the largest number ever used in a work of fiction.
  • The Kingdom of the Isles has the library-fortress of Sarth, maintained by an order of monks. The library spans entire levels burrowed into a small hill, while an old dwarven mine beneath the hill provides even more room for expansion.
  • The Beast's library in Robin McKinley's Beauty. Might not have all the books that will ever be written, but it certainly has books that haven't been written as of when the story occurs.
    Beauty: "Rudyard Kipling"? This is a name?
  • The Great Library of Pandathaway in the Guardians of the Flame series appears to qualify — though its librarians also charge ruinously high fees to actually find the information within its cavernous shelves and chambers.
  • The Clayr's Great Library in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, which first shows up in Lirael, is under a mountain and doesn't limit itself to just books: odds and ends like sealed Free Magic beings and chambers large enough that it takes ten minutes to walk through them that contain only a pond, a tree, loads and loads of flowers and a fake sky (this is underground, remember?) are hidden here and there. Working in the library is apparently dangerous enough that whole parties of armed librarians are required for trips into the lower levels, and all librarians are required to have various weapons as well as a whistle and a clockwork mouse that will raise an alarm in case of emergencies on their person.
  • In The Neverending Story, Bastian creates a library with every story he has ever composed, for the benefit of a city of storytellers.
  • Spectral Stalkers has the Library of Limbo, the first of many locations accessible in the Ziggurat. It's so big it doesn't even exist in the normal universe.
  • The Discworld explains the phenomenon of L-Space, which can turn any collection of books into a Library of Babel, thusly: Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass, which distorts time and space. "A good bookshop is just a genteel black hole that knows how to read." That said, it also has more specific examples.
    • The library of Unseen University is a major "node" in L-Space owing to the sheer weight of accumulated knowledge distorting the space-time continuum. The library itself is pretty much a universe of its own where the library dome is always directly overhead no matter where you are, creatures such as the thesaurus lurk between the shelves, and lost research students have formed tribes in the stacks.
    • The Library of Ephebe in Small Gods is clearly modeled on the real-life Library of Alexandria, i.e., a serious attempt to collect all known books in existence - with the added feature of an earthed copper roof in case one of the Disc's myriad deities takes issue with something in its collection. It seems large but otherwise normal until it is burning down and The Librarian pops in and out via L-Space to save some of the books. It gets rebuilt later with another library in Omnia acting as backup, but many works are irretrievably lost.
    • Death's Library is a variation - every person's life story writes itself into a book somewhere on his shelves. As you go back, the histories are written on scrolls, then animal skins, then stone slabs... One character asks Death's daughter (adopted) what came before the slabs, because some people would "quite like to know". She replies that she didn't get that far, as she was running out of candles.
    • Death also has a more straight version of this; in The Last Continent he is looking for information on the Discworld's version of Australia, XXXX. He walks into the library and asks for information on the dangerous animals, and is buried in books. He then changes the request to the non-dangerous ones, and one sheet of paper floats down, reading "some of the sheep."
  • Harry Turtledove's "Trantor Falls": To convince Gilmer, a galactic warlord intent on sacking the entire planet of Trantor, not to destroy their library, the administration offers him a tour to see what they do, and lean heavily on their secret knowledge being something they could willingly share, as long as their library was left intact, of course. They show him around the enormous stacks of old material, and explain how this is only a fraction of the knowledge that they would provide his subordinates for free if he doesn't try to blow up the library.
  • Classic H. P. Lovecraft examples:
    • "The Shadow Out of Time": The Pnakotus Archive of the Great Race of Yith hidden deep underground somewhere in the Australian Outback, which is supposed to contain the history and combined knowledge of every civilization that has ruled, or will ever rule, planet Earth.
    • In HP Lovecraft's writing, some real world libraries also hold tomes of Eldritch lore. The Necronomicon, one of the best known examples, can be found in the British Museum, the National Library of France, the Widener Library of Harvard University, and the University of Buenos Aires. Some of these (particularly the National Library of France) are so old and so large that they probably count as real life examples without the terrifying books which drive people mad. note 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events features several non-supernatural libraries which come close to this, including a massive system of filing cabinets, a collection of banned books, and a pile of valuable secret documents under a table. Every single book features a library of some sort which is plot important.
  • A Shout-Out to this. The library of the abbey in The Name of the Rose; though it does not literally contain every possible book, it is described as containing within it all the knowledge of medieval Europe, and entrance to it is forbidden. Also, the blind monk Jorge de Burgos is an obvious Shout-Out to Borges.
  • The Archives of the University in The Name of the Wind and sequels. It has no natural light, and it's so vast it's difficult to find anything, since no librarian could live long enough to implement an organization system, so there are different systems in place in different areas. It has The Big Board that marks locations in the world where teams of librarians are retrieving more books. There is one character, Puppet, who has lived in the Archives for years. There are "bad neighborhoods" of shelves with no organization whatsoever. There are secret passages that access the Archives from the undercity that was buried hundreds or thousands of years ago.
  • The Great Library in the Thursday Next books, which contains every book that will ever be written, and a few more besides.
  • 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.
  • The Invisible Library in Genevieve Cogman's book of the same name, which collects books from across The Multiverse, especially books that are unique to one reality.
  • In Protector, part of Larry Niven's Known Space series, there's one on the Pak homeworld, large enough that the title character spent decades in one section.
  • The Library in Elizabeth Bear's story "In Libres". It's way Bigger on the Inside (readers are advised to bring several days' worth of food supplies), the bookshelves form a mobile labirynth, and it is said to contain every book ever written.
  • The Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter books is a downplayed example — it may not contain everything, but it contains virtually everything relevant to the plot of the story. However, because the characters are often using it to do research on a taboo subject, they never ask the resident librarian for help, and their research always takes far longer than it should.
  • The Gam3: One of the Game's factions, maintains a special, tightly guarded archive. Each book corresponds to a 'version' of the Game, and contains entire libraries of data about that time period. The earliest volumes are kept locked away even from the rest of the highly-secure archive.
  • Journey to Chaos: The public library in Dnnac Ledo is massive. One cannot see the tops of the shelves nor the end of the rows; they extend beyond the horizon; the library is Bigger on the Inside. It contains every book the immortal Walking the Earth elves could get their hands on after thousands of years, more that they themselves have written, and it doesn't end with paper books either. It has artifact exhibits, virtual reality booths and jars of informative scents. The only reason Eric doesn't pitch a tent is because he doesn't have it with him at the moment.
  • In The Goblin Reservation, The Crystal planet is a colossal library containing all the knowledge of the period spanning tens of billions of years and two universes.
  • The Dresden Files has a version of this in the body of a human girl. The Archive is a magical repository of anything humanity has ever recorded or written down created as a safeguard against some sort of civilisation-destroying disaster, from the entirety of the internet to the financial documents of temples in ancient Thessalonika. It lives in the mind of a little girl named Ivy, who has access to all this information at a moment's notice. The main character at one point communicates with her by writing a message to her on a notepad, which immediately gets entered into the Archive for her to know and read.
  • Labyrinths of Echo features Monin's Library - a patch of an alien universe containing only books that were never written, discovered by King Monin on the Flipside of the Dark Side. Hard to tell whether it was a deliberate crossover with The Sandman... or something else entirely.
  • Ashes of Empire: The "knowledge vault" on Lyonesse hasn't reached this level yet, but they're working on it.
  • Dragonrealm has the Library in Penacles. Although it reputedly contains a vast wealth of knowledge, much of it is very difficult to interpret. Knowledge gleaned from the Library also has the unfortunate quirk of disappearing from the reader's mind shortly after reading it, unless they make a concentrated effort to remember the information.
  • The Faerie Queene: The library of Eumnestes contains records of everything he remembers from his thousands of years on Earth. This includes chronicles on all the kings of Britain and the history of faeries, both of which take up the bulk of Canto X of Book II.
  • Uplift: Galactic civilization has a "Great Library" which holds most information for countless intelligent species. Every planet and outpost has its own branch.
  • Moongobble and Me: Book 5 has Moongobble and co. visit the Society of Magicians' headquarters, and their archives, which has a record of every curse ever cast, among other things. The group goes there to find, successfully, information on the Oggledy Nork's curse.
  • Goblins in the Castle: While its contents aren't really discussed, the library in Toad-in-a-Cage Castle has so many books, the Baron had to renovate a section of the building (via knocking out the walls between seven rooms) to make a single room big enough to hold them all.
  • Doom Valley Prep School: The school library has bookcases that are two stories tall, and the aisles disappear off in the distance. It also doesn't follow normal geometry, as four right turns put you in a totally different area, and there is a cliff to climb to get to the second floor. There are five floors just like this. It also has books on every possible subject from curses, to the elemental plane of water, to autobiographies, to basket weaving. It has a small army of angels and demons of knowledge taking care of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
  • The Gaia Library in Kamen Rider Double, a compendium of every single bit of information on Earth, which manifests to Philip in the form of a white blank space full of CG bookshelves whooshing around, Matrix-style, that give him a book with the desired information as he enters specific keywords, not unlike Google.
  • The Librarians has this as the basis of the show, with the characters having access to seemingly any book they need, as well as being a expansive display/collection of numerous magical artifacts, either of which are constantly in a state of being both stolen from and recovered to the library. The show takes place in the Annex, a (for budgetary reasons) smaller area but still connected to the main library. The Library is so big it's said to have to exist in a pocket dimension. This becomes a plot point when a villain's plot involves destroying the artifact keeping it there, which would destroy both the Library and the world if the two were forced to coexist.
  • Star Trek:
    • Memory Alpha is the Library of Congress for the Federation. Since the Federation consists of multiple worlds, and new information is being brought in by Starships all the time, it's probably huge. Logically, there are Memories Beta through Omega to back it up in case the facility is lost.
    • In one of Diane Duane's Star Trek novels, the Enterprise returns to Earth for a resupply, and while everyone else is on shore leave, Spock stays behind to update the ship's computers with information from all of Earth's major libraries. (He finds it relaxing.)
  • Warehouse 13: Myka discovers that the eponymous Warehouse also holds a massive library containing first editions of everything ever printed.
    Pete: Does that include comic books?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Out of the Abyss: The party ends up needing to return to the Underdark to visit one of these called Gravenhollow to solve the problem of a demon infestation. There, the players can learn about how the demons were summoned in the first place, and what can be done to stop them. While there, everyone inside the library is always under the effects of the Comprehend Languages spell, to make finding and communicating whatever they need easier.
    • Planescape: Thoth's Library is said to hold every book that was ever written or that will ever be created.
  • Exalted has this in the form of the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, headquarters of the Bureau of Destiny's department of Secrets (basically the people who keep track of everything that has happened in order to plan when people will make certain discoveries). Jupiter, the Maiden of Secrets, has a personal library which is much smaller but considered to be significantly more valuable by people familiar with it, since it not only contains her personal collection, but her own annotations and commentaries.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The plane of Mirrodin has the Knowledge Pool at Lumengrid, home of an entire race of Gadgeteer Genius Badass Bookworms known as the Vedalken. While the Pool is technically less of a traditional library as it is a swirling mass of liquid wisdom compiled by its keepers over countless millenia, the Vedalken have made it their prerogative from Day 1 to collect as much knowledge as is conceivably possible.
    • The Bibleoplex on the plane of Arcavios, the beating heart of Strixhaven University, is a library so unbelievably massive that it has canals that require boats to cross, and is so tall that the higher levels have indoor weather patterns. The place is even rumored to contain a copy of every book of magic in the multiverse.
  • New World of Darkness: The Athenaeum is a domain of The Underworld that contains a ghostly copy of everything in history that has ever been written and then lost. It's also an unmappable Eldritch Location with no filing system, so good luck finding the specific resource you need.
  • In Nomine:
    • Yves' Library in Heaven contains anything ever written or recorded by mortals, ethereals and celestials, including some works that were only thought out or dreamed about. It's actually very well-organized ... but the sheer scale of its contents can make a search take days without assistance. Most of it is accessible to all seekers, but there's also a "special collection" that only the Archangels can enter, which includes tomes deemed too dangerous for even the most stalwart angels to read — for instance, a manifesto written by Lucifer to justify his rebellion.
    • Kronos' Archive in Hell is a dark mockery of Yves' Library in the form of a comprehensive and thorough store of every tome on demonology ever penned, alongside the records and bookkeeping of Hell itself and histories of the War and treatises on the universe written from the demons' point of view.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has plenty of planetary libraries and eldritch stores of information:
    • The Black Library contains the collected knowledge of the entire Eldar race, but is hidden in the Webway and guarded by the greatest of the Harlequins' Solitaires. Only one human has visited it, but has sworn never to speak of what he found there, while the Arch-sorcerer Ahriman is obsessed with plundering its secrets for himself.
    • The Imperium has thousands, ranging from Alexandria-sized to covering all the planets in a system. Unfortunately they seem to think cataloging things is a sin, and only tend to pop up in the background when they're being razed by Orks or captured by Chaos.
    • Of particular note is the Adeptus Administratum offices on Holy Terra, where armies of robed scribes carefully record useless census data thousands of years out of date from worlds that don't exist anymore, then file the reports away in the kilometre-high stacks where they will never be read again. Meanwhile the Adeptus Mechanicus never deletes anything and stores the majority of the Imperium's scientific talent.
    • The Hidden Library of Tzeentch is even larger than the Black Library and contains every single scrap of knowledge, every thought of every creature across space and time, and is where Tzeentch himself concocts his eternal plots.
    • The Solemnance Archive, being a Necron record, has been expanding for the last hundred million years as its undead robot master, Trazyn the Infinite, adds new objects to his 'collection'. Such curios include the preserved head of an Imperial hero and entire armies of soldiers held in temporal stasis to form dioramas of historical conflicts.

    Video Games 
  • Afterlife (1996) has the Library of the Infinite, where Diligent SOULs can enjoy every book, film, or recording that was ever made, and even a vast number that weren't.
  • Carto has the Story Chalet, full of books that write themselves due to events in the world.
  • The Duke's Archives, the personal collection of Duke Seath the Scaleless in Dark Souls. It consists of multiple rather large rooms and an entire tower (that also doubles as a dungeon), and considering that Seath is the creator of sorcery, they're no doubt on rather dangerous subjects. One fan estimated that the tower/dungeon section of the Archives alone contains nearly 97,000 books, and that's barely half the Archives.
  • The Library of the Ancients in Final Fantasy V has an unbelievable number a books, including a large number which decide to attack the party. Being killed by a book is not a good way to go.
  • The Dark People from The Longest Journey seek to obtain every book ever written, which they store in their library, located on a moving island whose location is a secret for but a few.
  • Touhou Project features Voile, the Magical Library note  in the Scarlet Devil Mansion's basement. It's large enough to allow for a roughly five-minute-long aerial battle over the bookshelves traveling in one direction without ever reaching the end. The library is maintained by Patchouli Knowledge, who spends her days locked up inside adding to the already-massive cache of knowledge - she's not just the librarian, but also the author of an unspecified proportion of the tomes in her library, and probably the overwhelming majority of the magic books in the library, given the esoteric rules for wizardry in the Touhou 'verse. 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).
  • World of Warcraft: The Library section of the Karazhan instance has bookshelves as tall as staircases, as well as books strewn all along the floor which can be picked up and used to give you one of a few buffs, depending on the tome. In addition to that, there are at least two libraries which might fit this trope even though they are physically small because they are larger on the inside than the outside, and/or because they have no normal doors and can only be reached by teleportation.
  • The Temporal Security Agency in The Journeyman Project backed up ALL of recorded history on a single optical disc, specifically for the event that history would be altered. When that happens, a copy of this disc is left in the Agency headquarters to be altered while an Agent is sent to get the original in 200 million BC, and use the Agency computer to cross-reference the differences between the two.
  • Subverted in The Labyrinth of Time. An orbital space station was meant to house a digital version of this, but it's accessed by a single terminal, and King Minos' attacks on the world had already caused a near-total deletion of its data.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Apocrypha, the Daedric plane of Oblivion belonging to Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge (with a particular specialty in knowledge of the Eldritch variety), is a massive Magical Library. It is said to contain all of the knowledge in the universe. You get a chance to visit it in Skyrim's Dragonborn expansion, where it contains every book in the game, from the mundane to the Skill Books to the Spell Books, though most are randomly distributed. It also contains special "Black Books", artifacts which exist both on Nirn (where they act as portals to Apocrypha) and on this plane (where can actually be read and give special knowledge).
    • The Imperial Library is the largest library on Nirn itself. Housed in the Imperial City's White-Gold Tower (which also serves as the palace of the Emperor), it also houses all known Elder Scrolls. Both the library and the Elder Scrolls are maintained by the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, whose members are referred to as "Moth Priests", an order dedicated to Julianos, the Aedric Divine God of Wisdom and Logic. (An unsubscribed event occurred sometime in the 4th Era which caused all of the Elder Scrolls to vanish from the library. They are now found scattered throughout Tamriel, and the Moth Priests have been working to recover them.)
  • Played with in Ripper. One of the many places in Cyberspace is called the "Virtual Library", with a human librarian jacked in from outside, but cyberspace itself is a rather small array of sites, many of them just personal wells. This library isn't just limited to regular books but also files and software, though you still have to check them out manually.
  • The Zweiteturm in Atelier Ayesha. The result of a Fling a Light into the Future, it holds tomes on a large number of subjects from before the Dusk (though naturally, the only people known to come there are after either alchemy tomes or stuff on flowers). The only problem is that it's filled with rouge Slags (aka worker robots) that the lone caretaker can't really do much about. Not helping is its location in the middle of a great big hole in the middle of a large, dense forest.
  • Battleborn has a couple of this in its lore.
    • Codex the Eldrid's seat of power before it was darkened was one. The planet was the home to massive data troves – a planet-spanning repository of all the knowledge from around the universe, encoded into the very DNA structure of the planet's massive eliim trees.
    • After Codex was darkened and the Eldrid re-settled on their ancient homeworld of Ekkunar, they tried restoring what they lost via The Codex Regrowth. The Codex Regrowth is a testament to the Eldrid's determination to gain knowledge and preserve the natural order of the universe. There, the Eldrid have re-planted several seed-pods from the planet Codex in an attempt to re-grow the massive eliim trees and recover some of their lost knowledge troves. This grove is the setting of The Archive mission.
  • Nexus Clash has angelic Vaults of Enlightenment and demonic Damned Libraries, vast repositories of ancient knowledge from innumerable planes. The books within are a quick and easy way of Level Grinding and so factions strive to protect and control the libraries, but both kinds contain books that are all too willing to attack anyone who they deem unworthy of their knowledge.
  • The Doom mod Sunder includes the level "Archives of the Technomancer", set in and about a colossal library with bookshelves the size of apartment blocks. The bottom of the library is filled with lava, which for some reason doesn't seem to affect the books adversely.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a level called Long Library. It contains numerous books, especially ones that attack the protagonist, Alucard. There is a shop belonging to the Master Librarian, the head of Long Library. He sells items - such as healing potions - to Alucard.
  • SINoALICE takes place in the Library, a mysterious world containing a countless amount of stories, ranging from famous literature works to fairytales, including tales from unknown worlds. The Library's form changes depending on one's perspective, such as taking the form of a massive library in the player's case. The books within the Library are used to either warp to different locations or to summon a weapon from the gacha. Residing in the Library include Nightmares, creatures based on monsters in fairy tales and myths, who live to consume the stories within the Library, and Characters, the characters of the stories come to life, fighting and killing the Nightmares in hopes that they can resurrect their authors to rewrite their stories in their own image.
  • In Stellaris, one of the Fallen Empires, known as the Keepers of Knowledge, most of all values technological superiority and the unique knowledge collected in their Master Archive, which is located on the planet named after it. According to the game itself, "the collected knowledge of five galactic ages is supposedly stored here". Due to the incredible size of the Archive, the extreme complexity of both its structure and usage standards, and the overall millennia-long decline, even the Keepers themselves no longer know how to properly use this storehouse of knowledge.
  • Library of Ruina is, of course, set in one of these; The Library of Babel is specifically referenced. Visitors are lured in by offering them books, then turn into books themselves when they fail the library's challenges and are added to the collection.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, one of the doors leads to a massive library filled with books on several different subjects. It was used by the ship's former owner as a storage for his book collection.
  • The final Episode of Umineko: When They Cry features the City of Books. The entire library is owned by Featherine and contains all the various books and stories (in the meta-world, various Fragments) that she ever created. The final battle between Lambda, Battler and Ange against Bern takes place here.
  • Touchstarved has the Senobium, a university rumored to play host to one of these. While it's been closed to the public for years, desperate people - the protagonist among them - still make the perilous journey to Eridia in search of answers they can't find anywhere else.

  • The Bibliothiki in Wapsi Square is an extra-dimensional library that contains every book ever written (but only things that have been written, no audio recordings). It is guarded by a sphinx librarian. It is implied that the Library of Alexandria was a physical manifestation.
  • Double Subversion in Gunnerkrigg Court. When the protagonist heads to the Court's library to get information for her school essay, you'd expect it to be an imposing, spooky, silent, mazelike place — after all, the Court shown so far is a massive imposing castle with supernatural inhabitants and qualities. Turns out, the library — at least, the sections not devoted to science and technology — is a single flimsy bookshelf with useless books. So the girls head to the old part of the library... which is an imposing, spooky, silent, mazelike place.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja arc "Futures Trading", the eponymous doctor uses a library of the printed out version of the entire Internet, with the aid of a robot of Google, to help him with overcoming the villains' Evil Plan and Storming the Castle. It's that kind of comic.
  • In Girl Genius, there is "The Incorruptible Republic of the Immortal Library of the Grand Architect" - an autonomous government which rules a vast library deep beneath Paris. They are generally disliked by the more important and responsible people in Europa for their overwhelming neutrality, although it's been proven that they may favour one faction over another based on their history with books. ("Unlike other members of his family, Prince Tarvek never incurred any overdue fines... or let his dogs chew on the books...")
    Wooster: They lend out any book to anybody. Many people find this irresponsible.

    Web Original 
  • In the Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society, the Library Arcanium, the Society's base, has just about every book ever written, from every universe, and is basically in another dimension. It is very big.
  • The Superhero School Whateley Academy library in the Whateley Universe isn't infinite, but it is enormous for a high school library, and contains lots of stuff human libraries shouldn't even know about, sealed off in private areas: alien books, Cosmic Horror Story books...
  • The online story Dominion and Duchy has one in the Galactic Library. It is run by an A.I. known as the Librarian and apparently holds the contents of the Great Library of Alexandria. The Librarian was apparently organizing it for the humans when they make first contact.
  • In Heroes and Scientists, the Archives are the result of million-year-old aliens roaming the galaxy collecting its scientific and cultural knowledge. Much of the story's tension derives from various people who want to use the knowledge for good or evil. The Archivist, meanwhile, is adamant that the knowledge not be used at all.
  • I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library by Qntm has a library that chronicles every single thing that has ever occurred in the universe, from all perspectives, in every language.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1986, a seemingly-infinite tunnel full of books that range from the slightly odd to extremely weird.
    • The Serpent's Hand, a secret society opposed to the Foundation's practices, operates from an anomalous Library that contains almost every book ever written (along with a few that weren't). It exists "outside of normal space" but can be accessed through certain specific rituals performed in certain specific places. The Foundation aren't allowed in.
    • SCP-4001 "Alexandria Eternal" is a library containing the life stories of every human being in history, and even before. The books can be edited to change reality around that person (such as changing gender, curing disease, or even expand lifespans indefinitely), and destroying the book causes the person to be Ret-Gone. The oldest books date back about 75 000 years, but the Foundation have discovered untold layers of ash beneath the floorboards. The library is also sentient, and can interact with its Watchers (various organizations throughout its history, most recently the Foundation) by writing in their books.
  • The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids has the Interdimensional Library, or simply "the Library", which allegedly contains a copy of every book ever published anywhere in The Multiverse (although Century Smith thinks the librarians may be exaggerating a bit). It is poorly organized, but spawns living projections of fictional characters who can instinctively navigate its strange logic and guide browsers to the books they need. Entry into the Library is not free: you have to pay by gifting them a new narrative, the stronger and truer the better.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "The Library" in the desert is legendary for its supply of books. One scholar says that, as the library is withdrawing into the spirit world that he could spend his life searching and never find a greater store of knowledge. The supernatural librarian, Wan Shi Tong, charges new knowledge from visitors and sends out fox familiars to retrieve more.
  • Futurama:
    • In "The Why of Fry" the Brain Spawn are constructing a database of all the knowledge in the universe, and once it's full, they plan to destroy the universe to make sure no new knowledge appears. In Fry's own words, "Now it's personal."
    • The Brain Spawn, amusingly, are actually scanning in EVERY SINGLE FACT (such as "2+2=4", "Puppies are cute", etc) not just tomes of knowledge or principles of mathematics. (Fridge Logic: If they wanted to store all mathematical facts, they'd need to record infinite facts of the form "n+n=2n" alone.)
    • Spoofed in "Mars University". All the literature in the world is in the Mars U library — on two disks. (Fiction and Nonfiction)
  • Kaeloo: The main four own a library full of books on every topic available, no mater how ridiculous it may seem.
  • Metalocalypse: There is a giant library in Mordhaus; the home of the death metal band Dethklok. It contains millions of books, including a diary that belongs to the lead singer's grand mother.
  • Welcome to the Wayne: The Stanza is a gigantic library located in The Wayne accessed throught a portal in a mirror, managed by Mrs. Clara an elderly lady and helped by squid like creatures, there's a weaponry, railings that lift up when are grab and a control room by which she watches and controls the movements of the passages and giant bookcases.

    Real Life 
  • The Library of Babel offer any 3200 character combination of English letters, comma, space, and period.
  • The Library of Alexandria gets this treatment in fiction. It held so much ancient knowledge that some say that if it had not burned down and been lost forever, technology would be significantly more advanced today. At the least, we'd know the content of many more classical works. The truth is a bit more complex. For starters the library was largely not concerned with technology and its (purportedly) vast financial, philosophical, and theological collections are often ignored in the popular consciousness. Secondly it was not the only great library of the ancient world and might not have even been the most extensive.note  It was, however, very prominent thanks to its location in a trade/ tourist town and association with what was essentially one of the first colleges (the Musaeum). Its destruction was less than ideal but breakdown in leadership of the Musaeum was probably the bigger loss of the ancient world. An intact copy of its archives would still be a field changing discovery for historians.
    • Some historians also estimate that around half of the books are merely commentaries on The Iliad. Similar to how any library in Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the Modern Era would be mainly commentaries on the Bible. Very important if you're into that sort of thing, but not as universally interesting as books of mathematics, technology, science, etc.
    • The Library of Alexandria, Quaero, Wikidata, Wikipedia, and the Internet Archive (see below) have obviously also influenced various theorists with the idea of a "universal library", the closest expression of this trope in mainstream media and academia.
  • While nowhere near as well known as the Library of Alexandria, the House of Wisdom, located in ancient Baghdad, was for its time the largest repository of knowledge in the world and actually held a great number of Greek and Roman translated pieces that may have originated from Alexandria. Unfortunately, it too was destroyed, in their case when the Mongols sacked the city. It was said that so many books were thrown into the Euphrates that the water turned black with ink.
  • The academy of Gondishapur was the predecessor of the House of Wisdom before the Muslim conquest of Persia.
  • The Buddhist university of Nalanda contained one of the biggest libraries and centers of knowledge of the ancient world, being considered the core of the Golden Age of India. Sadly, it and all the nearby libraries were all destroyed when the Muslims conquered the land, with chronicles claiming that there were so many books there that the buildings kept burning for months. Although they later reopened under Muslim rule, many of the books were lost.
  • Al-Azhar university contained a massive library, with plenty of text of medicine and astronomy, until it destroyed when Saladin conquered the city. Most of the ended up burned or thrown away, and it's said soldiers used to sole their shoes with the books' bindings. The library was later rebuilt, although this time they preferred to do the learning by memorizing rather than reading.
  • Al-Hakam's library in Al-Ándalus contained tons of texts of ancient science before being destroyed by Muslim fundamentalists. Similarly, Granada's library was reportedly a thing of beauty, although when The Catholic Monarchs conquered the city, Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros ordered it to be burned, only sparing the books about science and medicine for their own Christian universities.
  • Philip II's library in his uber-palace of El Escorial was the biggest private one in Europe for several centuries, and he tasked his successors not to stop expanding it if they could. It contained books of pretty much everything, from arts and sciences to forbidden texts of black magic and alchemy that gave the Spanish Inquisition fits, as well as many books captured by Spain from the Moors, the Turks, the Aztecs and the Mayans. The current library is far from what it used to be, though, because the next dynasty in the throne, the Bourbons, stopped its expansion and in fact gifted many of the books to their relatives in France, not to mention a fire that destroyed many prizeless books in 1671.
  • The British Library could represent the closest modern version, at 170 million items. It's a legal deposit library, so by law, every book, pamphlet, magazine and newspaper published in the UK must send a free copy to be archived.
  • The Lenin library in Moscow ("Leninka" for short) is the closest real-life example regarding the Soviet era. It was guaranteed to have a copy of every single book officially published in the Soviet Union.
  • Paul Otlet, a Belgian pioneer of library and information science, conceived a library known as the Mundaneum, consisting of index cards filled with encoded information, and tried to establish a research service that allowed the paying public to phone his team to look up information, imagining that it would expand to include an Alternet of “electric telescopes” that enabled live streaming of multiple document lookups (an early version of search engines) and allowed viewers to see associations between documents (anticipating Tim Berners-Lee’s Semantic Web concept). He convinced the Belgian government to fund his efforts, but the Mundaneum, without the research service, was mostly destroyed by the Nazi invasion of 1940.
  • The US Library of Congress aims to include at least one copy of every single book ever published in the United States, and as such has literally millions of books. It's only slightly smaller than the British Library (the UK's equivalent institution). It is generally considered to be the largest library ever made.
    • The LOC also established the World Digital Library partnership with UNESCO and multitudes of national and university libraries to try to emulate this trope further, running from 2009 to 2020, and collecting over 18,000 items.
  • The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination, a private collection belonging to Jay Walker, that is half-library and half-museum. It includes many interesting artifacts such as facsimiles of historically important manuscripts, documents, and ancient texts, space artifacts such as one of the original Sputniks, famous film props such as the crystal ball from The Wizard of Oz, and many others, in addition to thousands of books.
  • The movement towards everything being published on the Internet is extremely useful if an apocalyptic event happens; in the past, war, plague, or an earthquake could raze an entire city and bury or burn everything. Nowadays, however, most important info is already stored in too many places to lose everything at once. Downside is that it's not going to last long past the collapse of human civilization.
    • Philosopher Ted Nelson created hypertext, a foundational technology of the World Wide Web, but proposed to implement it in a universal library called Xanadu, with one notable feature being three-dimensional graphical links allowing simultaneous comparisons between different pages (the Web does not allow this). The Xanadu project is an infamous example of Vapor Ware, having been in development from 1960 to its release in 2014, while the Web’s extreme simplicity meant it was widely adopted much faster during that period.
    • A key example is the Internet Archive. While it is best known for the Wayback Machine, it is also home to the largest online library, not only housing digitised books but also audio files, video files, software and images. And yes, it is registered as an actual library: it was done so by California in 2007.
    • Two other examples, run entirely by volunteers, that are closely affiliated with the Internet Archive, are Project Gutenberg, which started when an Illinois student named Michael S. Hart entered the text of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in his college’s mainframe in 1971, and LibriVox, founded in 2005 by Montreal-based writer Hugh McGuire as a library of audiobooks of Project Gutenberg works.
    • Another, nascent, example is an app called Library of Alexandria consisting of over 30 million documents and books, most of which were collected online using web crawlers, which is also a prominent technique of the Internet Archive’s. The collection also somehow includes a database of old Russian passports. (Make of that what you will.)
    • Common Crawl, which provides, as of late April 2023, 400 tebibytes of web crawler data from 34 million registered domains, for enhancing the freedom of information. Many AI research companies, notably, OpenAI have heavily relied on Common Crawl and Wikipedia for training data.
    • An example of the trope that extends the principles of the previous five (most prominently, absolute freedom of information without regard for paywalls or copyright, see also Information Wants to Be Free), is the concept of the “shadow library”, a site that takes data from web scrapers (programs similar to crawlers) and creates free torrents of them. Examples include Library Genesis, Sci-Hub (restricted to scientific papers), and Anna’s Archive.
  • To introduce a literal version of the trope name, Libraries of Things have popped up in certain communities, particularly those that need seldom-used consumer goods in short supply (such as deep fryers, formal clothes, or pottery wheels), as well as more mundane objects, such as tools and toys. The idea has been further developed by the hosts of the podcast Srsly Wrong into a conceptual economic system called library socialism, which has been posited as a solution to overconsumption, among other things, and is heavily influenced by the theories of American libertarian socialist thinker Murray Bookchin.
    • In many communities (particularly ones that have faced long-term declines in socioeconomic investment), libraries, at least the public ones, already also serve as an important community center and as a lifeline for homeless people. The public library offers a third place for people outside of work, home, police stations or schools to gather without having to pay for something, and their provision of computers and periodicals to the broader public helps with applying for jobs, mental health services, disease testing and rental assistance, in addition to making it easy to learn about current events. For neurodivergent homeless people, libraries also aid in concentration and general quality of life by providing refuge from noise and inclement weather.


Video Example(s):


Beast's Library

Beast gives Belle his most treasured library so she'll have all the books she can read.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreatBigLibraryOfEverything

Media sources: