Library

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Library
Blank.jpg
Name The Library
Location The Unseen University
Owner
Use Library
Appearance A large stone building, also no matter where you are in the library the dome is always overhead.
Residents Magical Books; the Librarian; lost tribes of research students
Built
Founded by
Demolished
Books
Notes

Layout

The Library has endless shelves (some of which are Mobius shelves), but is covered by a dome only a few hundred feet across. The endless shelves may well be concealed between the two shelves right in front of one's eyes. A student wizard both studious and careful will tell his friends to come and look for him if he's not back from the Library in time for dinner. Even the Librarian sometimes has to use a ball of thread to mark his own trail. Occasionally a faculty member gathers a group of brave or unwisely curious students to find, for example, the Lost Reading Room. One such expedition headed by 'Bogeyboy' Swallatt got lost in the maze of shelves and was forced to eat their own boots to survive; when they found the remains of the previous year's expedition they ate their boots too.

All Unseen University grounds are permeated with magic - the ancient stone buildings housing far more rooms and corridors than their outer dimensions should allow. The Unseen Library is the most famously magical of the Unseen buildings.

There are connections to every library and every collection of books in the Multiverse, again by the principle of L-Space. This includes earlier and later versions of itself.

There are references to a University archive (which includes references to a certain Dr Worblehat) which presumably lies somewhere near the Library.

Library and Magic

However, it should be noted that the fact that it houses books is the main reason that it is magical and dangerous. The additional fact that some of the books are about magic spells, written by wizards, is only a small enhancement of the magical dangers of the Library. Books contain knowledge, and knowledge equals power, which according to the laws of physics can be converted to energy and matter, so the Library contains an extremely large mass that can distort time and space. That is the natural philosophy mumbo-jumbo explanation on the dangers of the Library. Another aspect of the Library (but indeed true for any other library or book shop) is that books are collections of words written by people. These words may inspire future writings, may be quoted by future writings, may even be subjects of future critical reviews. These words may themselves have quoted past writings, and so on. A full array of possible futures are implied by the books collected in one place. The Unseen University's Library is obviously magical in the layman's eyes only because the collection of books is very large and the Library is on magical grounds. If the truth be told, there is an Library-Space, or L-Space, connecting together all the space-time of all libraries. This is a fact known to very senior librarians, a secret that can be inappropriately exploited to the woe of the rest of the world. The L-Space itself may be considered magical in a specialized sense.

Entry

According to the strict word of the Lore, women are barred entrance to the library on the grounds that their inferior brains can't handle it. However, no sane wizard would care tell this to Adora Belle Dearheart. And in any case, the Librarian was more irritated that she was smoking, not that she was there. At one point, Glenda Sugarbean gained entrance by a servant's entrance. Perhaps servants have amnesty from the No Women rule(?). Non-wizards can only enter the non-magic parts of the Library (how it is kept distinct isn't known).

Library Staff

The Library of the Unseen University is tended by the Librarian, a wizard and a faculty member who has been an orangutan for many years now, due to a major magical accident described in The Light Fantastic. The Wizards are so used to this situation that if someone were to to tell them that was an Orangutan in the Library, they would ask the Librarian about it. Many books in the Library are about magical spells, and the books themselves are somewhat alive. Some fly by flapping their covers, some like to snap shut to bite people, some need to be chained, and all need to be looked after by the Librarian, who is firm but gentle. If the books detect major magical threats and are frightened and restless, the Librarian comforts them. If the books are injured (physically damaged), the Librarian heals (repairs) them. Rincewind has also worked here, as Assistant Librarian, a post which he apparently no longer holds. In Unseen Academicals, several "lesser" librarians were seen, and one of them had the misfortune to have to answer Glenda Sugarbean's questions about embarrassing words beginning with "F".

Library Contents

The Library contains many normal books on topics such as history, geography, philosophy but it also contains books never written, spotter's guides to invisible things, dictionaries of illusionary words and atlases of imaginary places. It is far more than a store-room of books of magical spells. Admittedly, one of the more important functions of the Library is to store books of very strong magic until the magic wears out (if ever). Several of such books are in separate dungeons, chained, kept between heavy plates or in ice, and locked in by a door of denatured octiron, which is impervious to magic. One such book is the Octavo, the first ever magical book on the Discworld, which is no longer magical.

The books are more or less permanent in residence inside the library - if you want to read them 'outside' they need to be stolen (as Brother Fingers did with The Summoning of Dragons in Guards! Guards!). The books flew out of the Library during "the business with the Sourcerer" (as the Librarian's peers put it) and were kept in the Tower of Art for this time.

The Unseen Library is home to such weird and wondrous creatures as the .303 bookworm and the critter.

Dr Worblehat's Quarters

Since the Librarian is shown at night sleeping in a cubby hole in the Library and during the day sleeping in a hammock it becomes clear that Dr Worblehat's previous quarters are going begging. It may have been that Rincewind slept in this area when he was Assistant Librarian. Possibly these rooms are now jettisoned from the Unseen University complex, or have changed their purpose... It would seem so that if these quarters were Dr Worblehat's they don't lie in the Library.