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Magical Library

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Don't worry, the birds won't eat bookworms.
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."

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 and MacGuffins. They also may have supernatural books such as Tomes of Prophecy and Fate and Tomes of Eldritch Lore. The library 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 and are 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 who are a bit more rebellious might simply steal from the library instead, setting up the main conflict.

This type of library tends to appear mostly in fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and works that have a Fantasy Kitchen Sink.

Compare the Great Big Library of Everything and The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. Contrast Secret Government Warehouse (both are repositories of strange and/or dangerous items, but the Secret Government Warehouse is never interested in sharing) and Spooky Silent Library (which needn't be magical — examples can overlap, though).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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 series In AnotherWorld With My Smartphone has the Library of Babylon is among the 9 floating islands left for Touya by Regina Babylon.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • In Gold Digger, the Library of Time in Shangri-La can magically summon up any book ever printed in all of history.
  • Lucien's library in The Sandman (1989). 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.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Over time the records of the Themysciran library become a treasure trove of information on the magical, historical and scientific. The more potentially dangerous magical records are kept in a medium that renders them little more than colored blocks without the proper means of reading and are protected by three magic using guards. This gets very little attention, but Wonder Girl (Cassie) finds the protective measures make her attempts to figure out if Zeus really is her father quite difficult.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has the traditional Hogwarts library, as well as Strange's occasionally alluded to library. The latter is said to contain books and technological treatises (even Magitek) from more or less literally everywhere; Alexandria, Atlantis, Asgard... being an immortal time-traveller, pack-rat, and master thief (as in 'steals the Tesseract when he gets bored'), he has picked up a lot. Some of them are ones he's written himself. It's also implied to be something of an armoury, and given that with Strange, the question of location is not just 'where' but 'when', he's more or less the only one with access to it. As a result, everyone immediately takes notice when he notes that he's releasing copies of some of his collection.
  • The Keys Stand Alone: The library in Tevri'ed, to a degree; it has dangerous tomes of arcane lore in the guarded basement, but it is otherwise a large, accessible, well-attended civic place with ordinary civilian librarians.
  • With This Ring: It's not a classic library of tomes and scrolls, but the Honden of Avarice is a metaphysical location containing records of every time any being has called upon the orange light of avarice since the beginning of the universe. Visiting it safely requires either thorough understanding of one's own desires, or magical shielding; otherwise, the visitor's mind may be overwhelmed. Paul accesses it regularly, both for information and to exploit it as an Extradimensional Shortcut, allowing him to teleport to the person responsible for a particular desire.
  • Batman 1939: The library at Shadowcrest is a huge repository of mystical knowledge. Untamed areas are liable to aggress on intruders despite the house spirit's interference.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 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.
  • MirrorMask features a magical library where books fly around and have to be caught with a net.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Discworld
    • 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 tribes of lost 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.
  • Doom Valley Prep School: The school library is huge, and considering taking four right turns leads to an entirely different part of the library, it's definitely an eldritch location. It also has books on magic, and books that are magical. One section of the library is flooded by a leaking tome on the Elemental Plane of Water. It has an army of demons and angels focused on knowledge caring for the books. There are also monsters wandering around, although some of them may just be there to read the books.
  • Harry Potter: The school library is this, especially the restricted section. In the first book, when Harry is trying to find out who Nicholas Flamel is, he sneaks in, he opens a book, and it starts screaming at him, attracting the caretaker.
  • The Invisible Library exists on a separate plane of existence and the Magic Librarians do not age while they are there. They are sent out to all kinds of parallel universes to acquire books that are unique to those universes, sometimes by illegal means. Taking these books to the Library helps to stabilize reality in their home universes, defending the humans there from being conquered by the forces of Order (dragons) or Chaos (faerie).
  • 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 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.
  • The Magic Treehouse, whose books can transport the reader to the event described.
  • 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.
  • 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 aide 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.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • 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 Zombie Knight has the Library of Erudition, a vast and semi-living compendium of knowledge, still standing despite being in the death continent of Exoltha. It has books on every subject, but has been known to devour the souls and knowledge of those who take any of them without the magically bound Keeper's permission.
  • In the Hell’s Library series by AJ Hackwith, there is a library in hell which houses unwritten books. The Magic Librarians are damned souls that could have been great authors but never fulfilled their potential. They are charged with making sure that the unwritten stories don’t escape the collective unconsciousness and enter reality.
  • In the House of Doors, the centerpiece of the titular House is its Library, the home to the spell books of magical lore that separates Keyholders from normal people.
  • The Scholomance: The titular Wizarding School's library is even more of an Eldritch Location than the rest of the place, rearranging itself according to dream logic and its own desires for what the students will find within. Then there are the shelves upon shelves of Spell Books, each of which has its own power and autonomy.
  • The titular location in The Starless Sea is this, an entire underground world's worth of magical library with stories inscribed on everything and recorded in every way possible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • As well as hosting a vast collection of magical books and objects including a ladder that moves on its own accord, the Library of Magic in The Bureau of Magical Things also functions as a mini-school for a group of young elves and fairies. It is hidden behind a book store owned by The Mentor.
  • The Librarians has the same Library as the film series it's based on, though its nature is expanded upon. In addition to holding many magical books and artifacts, it's also sentient on some level, Bigger on the Inside (due to being housed in a separate dimension), and capable of re-arranging rooms at will. At the start of the first season, the main Library is cut off from this world, leaving only the Annex for the protagonists to use. Flynn, the Librarian, spends the season trying to bring it back.

    Other Sites 
  • 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 Magnus Archives has several episodes involving books sporting the bookplate “From the Library of Jurgen Leitner”, which seem to be very nastily magical if not actively malevolent. The library itself was burnt down decades ago, but that doesn’t stop its books from causing trouble. Jurgen himself later reveals that none of the books were made by him, but were collected into his library in an attempt to seal their evil away (and branded with his name as a vanity). Other supernatural monsters took offense and attacked the library, scattering the books back into the world.

    Religion & Mythology 
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Mage: The Ascension from White Wolf had a stat for arcane libraries.
  • The New World of Darkness has quite a few:
    • The biggest is the Athenaeum, a domain of The Underworld with a copy of everything in history that's been written and then lost, from cave paintings to blog posts. On the other hand, it's an unmappable Eldritch Location with no indexing system, an owl infestation, and guardians who really hate mages. There's also the matter of arranging a trip to the Underworld that isn't one-way.
    • Mage: The Awakening:
      • The Point Build System has a Merit for characters who want their own arcane library, each dot representing an area of magical lore.
      • One of the magical orders, the Mysterium, dedicates itself to filling and maintaining magical archives, usually with vaults of magic artifacts attached. These Athenaea can grant extra benefits, like an XP discount to learn new rote spells.
    • Changeling: The Lost has some options for adding fey magic to a library, including archives stored in talkative skulls and books that multiply when nobody's watching.
  • 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. Ahzek Ahriman of the Thousand Sons is particularly obsessed with the Library.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG
    • The Grand Spellbook Tower 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.
    • Earlier on, circa Magician's Force (Champion of Black Magic in the OCG), we have the Royal Magical Library, a level 4 0 ATK/2000 DEF LIGHT Spellcaster-type monster that gets a Spell Counter for each spell card played and not negated (up to 3); once you max out on the Spell Counters, you can discard all three to draw a card.
  • In Ars Magica, magical reference materials are a vital part of every Covenant, as the Order of Hermes is founded on a unified theory of magic that they meticulously curate and develop. There are extensive rules for researching, writing, and studying magical volumes over the course of seasons, and the Order's founding Covenant of Durenmar has the most extensive magical library on the planet.

    Video Games 
  • 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 Imperial Library, the base of operation of writers and other important characters in Bungo to Alchemist. It is staffed with people with magical powers and populated by deceased famous writers who have been brought Back from the Dead who can enter the world of books to fight evil forces trying to corrupt it.
  • In the Dungeon Keeper series, every dungeon needs a library for minions to research and improve new spells. It's one of the first rooms you learn to construct, and academically inclined minions like Warlocks and Vampires get very grumpy if you don't provide adequate library space.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, is Apocrypha, which crosses this trope, a Great Big Library of Everything, and an extreme Eldritch Location. It is said to contain all knowledge, kept within the tomes on its shelves. The sky is an illuminating green in color and it is covered by a sea of roiling acidic waters. Some areas of Apocrypha are consumed by a darkness which kills any mortal who tries to enter it. The realm is haunted by the ghosts of mortals forever searching for knowledge, and is maintained by Mora's servants, the Seekers and Lurkers. You get a chance to visit it in Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC.
  • 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 Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games has the Eyeglass Island Library in Ages. 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.
  • The titular Library of Ruina is explicitly supernatural, housing seemingly endless amounts of books spread over 10 Floors. What especially makes it supernatural is its way of gaining certain books - guests are invited to it, and if they cannot overcome its 'ordeal' (the reception is a battle), they are turned into books themselves. The librarians actively use these books to become stronger, as well as fighting Abnormalities and harnessing their powers. The people falling in the Library causes many others to follow, by the promise that they can take any book they want after the ordeal. The Library is actually an Eldritch Location as it is Angela's own E.G.O. The mastermind is Carmen, who has been purposefully bending fate so (i.e letting Philip escape and rewiring his emergency button to lead to the 8'o Clock Circus instead) to archieve her own goals. In reality, a copy gets made of the guests (who are put into a dormant state) as soon as they step inside, so they do not actually become books themselves.
  • The library in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, located at a school for alchemists, is massive enough to serve as two dungeons. Of course, it's also home to undead blobs, sorceresses, malicious fairies, fallen angels, and ghosts, including Pamela and her Teddy. Students beware.
  • 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).
  • The Shattered Library in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It is an ancient elven library that contained the collective knowledge of their people until it fell into disarray when the Veil was formed, separating the Fade and the material world.
  • Nexus Clash has angelic Vaults of Enlightenment and demonic Damned Libraries, which contain holy and unholy books that are violently opinionated about who has the right to read them. They are the most valuable (and often the largest) buildings on their respective planes and more than a few wars have been fought over control of one.

    Web Comics 
  • Crystal Heroes features a magical section of an otherwise ordinary library that functions like a typical RPG dungeon. It was apparently originally designed as a combat trial for graduate students, and contains high-level material they need for their classes, but nowadays you can just request a team to retrieve a book for you. This is necessary because the library is full of monsters and puzzles not due to disrepair, but deliberately put there as a challenge. The main characters head into the dungeon to retrieve a book accidentally placed there due to a clerical error.
  • In El Goonish Shive, there exists a library in Egypt entwined in mortal destiny and magic. Beyond its guardian and what appears to be a sitting room though, the library itself is never seen.
  • VHV: The first arc is set off by a group of adventurers getting paid with an ancient artifact that gives access to a planet-sized library staffed by fae and filled with books from the goddess of knowledge.

    Web Original 
  • The Wanderer's Library could be seen as this, considering it's a supernatural library located outside of conventional reality and is filled to the brim with various books on many topics and stories.
  • The Enchanted Library of the WitchCraft SMP contains biographies of every known 'Minecraft character', explaining their backstories from life to death, including those from beyond the WitchCraft SMP. The contents of the books can only be modified with "the rainbow crystal-encased scripture table" in the library. The Welcome Guide of the library explicitly states that travellers should be careful with what they do with the knowledge contained in the library and the power that comes with it, and advises against reading one's own biography… lest they Go Mad from the Revelation.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The library of Wan Shi Tong contains vast amounts of knowledge, and the curator is an immortal spirit. Originally located in the Spirit World, it moved to the Si Wong Desert. Eventually, the library returned to the Spirit World, following two attempts by humans to use knowledge acquired within to defeat their enemies.
  • The fairies own a magical library in Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom from which they store, among other things, a talking recipe book.
  • Hilda: The Trolberg library has a secret room filled with magic books, and serves as a front for the Witches Tower. The librarian, Kaisa, is a witch herself.
  • One episode of Jackie Chan Adventures made it the focus as a vanishing castle that only appeared during the full moon and disappeared at dawn. If you don't make it out before then you go along with it and become bound as its guardian, forced to transform and attack any uninvited guests.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic magic is actually a common subject for Unicorn ponies to study and there are several of these:
    • Before it was destroyed in the season 4 finale, Twilight Sparkle lived in the Golden Oak Library, which has among other things a spell to give a non-Pegasus pony wings, a spell to let them walk on clouds, and a book on how to deal with rampant clones from the Mirror Pond.
    • The ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters still holds an extensive library. Apart from the mundane but plot-important Diary of the Two Sisters it also holds a genuine Tome of Eldritch Lore in the form of the Inspiration Manifestation which holds a spell that can turn creative thoughts instantly into reality.
    • The Canterlot royal library has a section dedicated to Starswirl the Bearded, one of the most gifted unicorns in the history of Equestria. One of the scrolls stored there has a spell that lets the caster Time Travel one week into the past.
    • Sunburst is a unicorn whose special talent is working in a magical library. Among other things, he can procure a spell that can restore a broken artifact and a spell that keeps the latent powers of a baby Alicorn in check, despite the birth of an alicorn having been a unique event.
    • Even a small town like Hope Hollow has a library with an extensive magical section, in which Twilight among other things finds several different forms of Dispel Magic. Unfortunately for her, none of them are helpful in fixing the problem.
  • The Smurfs: 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mystic Library, Arcane Library


Boiling Isles Library

The library in the Boiling Isles is obviously magical because of the setting. The Wailing Star makes it more magical by making all the books glow green and project their contents when opened.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MagicalLibrary

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