Books which feature public libraries


Adult Books – Fiction

  1. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 – by Richard Brautigan via Jules.”The Abortion is a genre novel parody concerning the librarian of a very unusual California library which accepts books in any form and from anyone who wishes to drop one off at the library—children submit tales told in crayon about their toys; teenagers tell tales of angst and old people drop by with their memoirs—described as “the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing” in the novel. Summoned by a silver bell at all hours, submissions are catalogued at the librarian’s discretion; not by the Dewey Decimal system, but by placement on whichever magically dust-free shelf would, in the author’s judgment, serve best as the book’s home.”
  2. Among others – Jo Walton. “features a lonely teenage girl for whom going to the library and joining a library science fiction reading group turns out to be a bit of a lifesaver”
  3. Body in the Library – Agatha Christie.
  4. Book Lady – Malcolm Forsythe. “The ‘book lady’ is Janet West, one of a pair of librarians who take the mobile library van around several Essex villages. Janet not only provides books for house bound readers but she also reads to them and if they pay, she will perform extra, more intimate, services.” via Chris Garnsworthy
  5. Book of Speculation – Erika Swyler.
  6. Borrower – Rebecca Makkai. “Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower is full of books, libraries, cross-country hijinks, accidental parenting, love gone wrong and friendships gone right. Makkai will have you cheering for her librarian heroine, who has all the history and darkness of a Russian novel in her veins, mixed with the humor and spirit of Bridget Jones. A fun, moving, and delightful read.” via Claire Back.
  7. Camel bookmobile – Masha Hamilton.
  8. Case of the Missing Books – Ian Sansom.
  9. Conan the Librarian – A parody of, well, Conan the Barbarian (via Janet Moore).
  10. Dead Virgin – KM Ashman. And other books in the series. “India Sommers is a librarian and a talented historian, so when a stranger asks her opinion on an ancient coin she is happy to oblige but when the same man is murdered less than an hour later, it soon becomes apparent that there is far more to the situation than meets the eye.
  11. Discworld series – Terry Pratchett.  Ook.
  12. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. Includes an unsanctioned library. “Bradbury’s lifelong passion with books began at an early age. As a frequent visitor to his local libraries in the 1920s and 1930s, he recalls being disappointed because they did not stock popular science fiction novels, like those of H. G. Wells, because, at the time, they were not deemed literary enough.”
  13. Gaudy Night – Dorothy L Sayers.  Many library scenes.  Features Miss Burrows, the college librarian.
  14. Goodbye Columbus – Philip Roth.  Librarian protagonist and libraries seen as refuge from outside world.
  15. Grand Complication – Allen Kurzweil.  “an intrepid librarian and his sinister boss on the trail of Marie Antoinette’s stolen watch. ”  (with thanks to Janet Moore)
  16. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman.
  17. Invention of Solitude and Invisible by Paul Auster (via Jules in comments)
  18. Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman.
  19. Jonathan Strange and Dr Norell – Susanna Clarke. “The chief character in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell isn’t, in fact, either of the magicians: it’s the library that they both adore, the books they consult and write and, in a sense, become.”
  20. Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins.
  21. Library of Babel – Jorge Luis Borges.
  22. Library Wars – A whole series of manga based on the importance of libraries. “In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves—the Library Forces”
  23. Mobile library – Ian Sansom via Erika Neck.  This is whole series of books based on a mobile library.
  24. Mobile library – David Whitehouse. “Books are a lifeline as two lonely children hijack a local authority vehicle for an action-packed tale of expanding horizons “
  25. Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco.  Set in mediaeval monastery, with it’s library playing a central part.
  26. Night Bookmobile – Audrey Niffenegger.
  27. PossessionAS Byatt.  “”Literary critics make natural detectives”, says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters and dusty journals…”
  28. Public library and other stories – Ali Smith. “What do the books we’ve read over our lives – our own personal libraries – make of us? What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?”
  29. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury. The local librarian is a key figure in the novel, suspecting that something evil is happening and working out what to do to fight it.
  30. Special Powers – Mary Hoffman. “Emily feels that everything about her is boring, her name, her looks, her life. The only interesting bit is the fantasy world she creates in her head, the desert kingdom of Krin, where she rules as Queen K’sendra. But Emily is transformed into Emma Leigh when the glamorous Power family come to town and with a change of name comes a whole new life. When the local library is threatened with closure, Emma Leigh and her new friends lead the campaign against the closure. It is very exciting but Emma Leigh begins to suspect that the Power family are not quite who they claim to be. An adventure story of life between two worlds that will carry the reader along with enthusiasm.” [with special props for the author commenting on this page to let me know – Ian]
  31. Strange Library – Haruki Murakami.
  32. That Uncertain Feeling – Kingsley Amis. “A satire on life and culture in a Welsh seaside town, the story concerns a married librarian who begins an affair with the bored wife of a local bigwig.”
  33. Thursday Next novels – Jasper Fforde.  Cheshire Cat is the librarian in many of these.
  34. Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger.  “Main character, Henry is a librarian in Chicago. Some library scenes ” via Clare Steele.
  35. Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. Lord Sepulchraves’s only escape is reading in the library, The burning of the library is a major plot point. via Jules.
  36. Tree grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith.  “Although the library is small and shabby, Francie thinks it looks beautiful. She loves to read, and wants to read all the books in the world, in alphabetical order. She is in the B’s right now. She treats herself on Saturdays to a book outside of the sequence, asking the librarian for a recommendation….”
  37. Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett.  via Caro Wallis. “When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library  she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen’s transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. “
  38. When she woke – Hilary Jordan.  Features a library.  via Leanne Wain

Adult Books – Non-fiction

  1. Between the stacks – Barry Bowes. Public librarian memoirs.
  2. Bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu – Joshua Hammer.
  3. Dewey the Library Cat – Vicky Myron.  Just wonderful.
  4. I work at a public library – Gina Sheridan.
  5. In the Stacks – Michael Cart. “noted author and librarian Michael Cart has assembled a fascinating collection of twentieth century short fiction about libraries and librarians: from such classics as Borges’s “The Library of Babel” and Isaac Babel’s “The Public Library”
  6. Is that the library speaking? – Ken Hornsby.  Memoirs of a public librarian.
  7. Library Book – Ann Cleeves et al.  A celebration of libraries by many authors via Chris Garnsworthy.
  8. This book is overdue – Marilyn Johnson.
  9. World’s Strongest Librarian – Josh Hanagarne. US librarian … and weightlifter.

Children’s Books

  1. Book! Book! Book! Deborah Bruss, Scholastic Hippo, 2002. The animals want to read but can’t make the librarian understand them – funny.
  2. The Boy who was Raised by Librarians – Carla Morris. “With humor, hyperbole, and repetition, author Carla Morris stresses all the ways Melvin gains from his relationship with the librarians. The more Melvin learns at the library, the better he does in school. Marge, Betty, and Leola are always quick to celebrate each of his accomplishments, including his graduation from high school. Even after Melvin goes to college, he keeps in touch with his librarian friends. It’s not surprising that several years later, when another little boy comes to the library, it is the Livingston Public Library’s newest librarian, Melvin, who is there to help him.”
  3. But excuse me that is my book – Lauren Child via Alison Taylor
  4. Carlo and the really nice librarianJessica Spanyol via Leanne Wain
  5. Creeping bookends [& the Library of Doom series]– Michael Dahl.  “A young boy is accidentally locked inside the library. When, suddenly, a pair of lizard bookends come alive. Will the librarian arrive before the boy becomes their next meal? ” via the wife.
  6. Curious George visits the library – HA Rey.  “George is lucky to arrive at the library just in time for story hour. But it’s not easy for a little monkey to sit still too long. From selecting books to getting his very own library card, George’s day at the library makes reading fun.” via Stephen Hackett.
  7. Delilah Darling is in the library – Jeanne Willis
  8. Fizzlebert Stump: The boy who ran away from the circus (and joined the library) – AF Harrold.  “‘There are many boys in the world, all slightly different from one another, and most of them are referred to by names. These are often John or Jack or Desmond, but sometimes they are James or Philip or Simon. Once, and once only, there was a boy whose name was Fizzlebert.’ Fizzlebert Stump lives in a travelling circus. But although he gets to hang around with acrobats, play the fool with clowns, and put his head in a lion’s mouth every night, he’s the only kid there – and he’s bored. But then Fizz decides to join a library, and life suddenly gets a lot more exciting, when a simple library card application leads to him being kidnapped by a pair of crazed pensioners! Will he ever see the circus again?” (via @kpaice).
  9. Frozen in time – Ali Sparkes.  “She finds a torch, picks the lock of the boot with a hairgrip and sprays antiseptic into the librarians’ eyes.” via L Watts.
  10. The Great Piratical Rumbustification, the Librarian and The Robbers: Margaret Mahy, Puffin, 1978. Serena Laburnum – a beautiful librarian outwits a band of wicked robbers turning them into outstanding citizens/

  11. Homer the library cat Reeve Lindbergh. “Homer is a very quiet cat. He lives in a very quiet house with a very quiet lady. But one day, while the lady is away, Homer hears a very loud sound, and out the window he goes! Poor Homer just wants to find a spot where he can curl up and be quiet, but his hometown is a surprisingly loud place. Will Homer find a bit of calm in all the noise? And will he ever find his quiet lady? Reeve Lindbergh’s cheerful, rhyming text pairs with Anne Wilsdorf’s charming illustrations for a story-lover’s ode to everyone’s favorite quiet place.” via my wife
  12. The House of Wisdom, Florence Parry Heide. Dorling Kindersley Publishers, 2000. Picture book for older readers – story of the Early Islamic Empire’s dedication to collecting and preserving the world’s knowledge
  13. How to live forever – Colin Thompson.  “Peter and his family live among the Quinces in the cookery section of a mystical library, and at night, when the library comes to life, Peter ventures out of his home to find a missing volume: How To Live Forever” via my wife.
  14. Inkheart – Cornelius Funke.  Heroine is a librarian.
  15. Legend of Spud Murphy – Eoin Colfer. “Will and Marty live in a family with their mum, dad and two other brothers. In their summer holidays their mother decides that they should take up an educative hobby, so she sends them to the library twice a week. Will and Marty are terrorized. Everyone knows the story of Spud Murphy, the evil librarian… “
  16. Librarian and the robbers – Margaret Mahy ““Pulverized by literature,’ thought Miss Laburnum. ‘The ideal way for a librarian to die.”  via Jules.
  17. Library Dragon – Carmen Agra Deedy.  “When Sunrise Elementary School advertised for a thick-skinned librarian with a burning love of books, Miss Lotta Scales knew she was perfect for the job. Who could guard books better than a REAL dragon?” via my wife.
  18. Library Lion – Michelle Knudsen
  19. Library Mouse – Daniel Kirk.  “Every child can be a writer—and Library Mouse shows them how! Beloved children’s books author and illustrator Daniel Kirk wonderfully brings to life the story of Sam, a library mouse.” via Stephen Hackett
  20. Library pages – Carlene Morton.  “rs. Heath, librarian at Happyland Elementary School, receives a DVD and letter from her students while she is on maternity leave. The letter notes that they miss her, and that the substitute falls asleep and snores while reading in the rocker. Meanwhile the pages are “helping” to keep the library running smoothly.” via the wife
  21. LiraelGarth Nix. “Through her solitary work in forgotten corners of the mystical library in the Clayr’s Glacier, Lirael begins to unlock the keys to embarking upon an apparently predestined adventure of utmost importance. “
  22. Little Bo Beep’s Library Book – Cresside Cowell
  23. Lulu loves the library – Anna McQuinn. “A moment-by-moment account of a very young child’s visit to the local library. The charming illustrations perfectly capture the little girl’s enthusiasm for books and stories, and paint a lovely picture of her book-loving Mum. This is a perfect story to prepare young children for a library visit. ” (with thanks to Gabrielle Spillman).
  24. Maisy goes to the library – Lucy Cousins
  25. MatildaRoald Dahl.  “In the film, Matilda goes to the library the morning after her father turns her down, but in the novel, she goes on the same day.” via shopgirl_london
  26. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics – Chris Grabenstein.
  27. Mistress of the storm – ML Welsh. “Verity Gallant is a lonely little girl who doesn’t quite fit in. But when a mysterious stranger hands her an ancient book, everything changes. Suddenly it’s up to her to solve the riddle of an ancient pledge and protect her family from the evil Mistress of the Storm. What hope does she have against a witch so powerful she can control the wind and create storms at will? Luckily, Verity does not have to face her enemy alone. As events begin to spiral out of control, she finds two loyal and steadfast friends to stand by her side.” via L Watts.
  28. My librarian is a camel – Margriet Ruurs.  “When we think of a library, we picture a building on a street or perhaps a room in a school. But some libraries aren’t kept behind four walls. Some move from place to place in the most remarkable ways: by bus, by boat, by elephant, by donkey, by train, even by wheelbarrow. These unusual mobile libraries are often the only way that books can be brought to people in remote areas …”  via the wife.
  29. Otto the Book BearKatie Cleminson.
  30. Peppa goes to the library – Peppa Pig goes … guess where.
  31. Ron’s big mission – Rose Blue, Dutton Books, 2009. Book about a black boy in South Carolina in 1959 wanting to borrow books when only white people are allowed to borrow.
  32. Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar, Emily MacKenzie, Bloomsbury, 2015.Ralfy loves reading so much he steals other people’s books. When he is caught, Arthur introduces him to the Library, where you can read as many books as you want.
  33. When the library lights go out -Megan MacDonald. “hen the library lights go out, that means it’s time for three story-hour puppets to begin their adventures! At first only Rabbit and Lion come out to play and explore their library home. But where is their friend Hermit Crab? Where could she be in the library darkness? In this charming story, come along with Rabbit, Lion, and Hermit Crab as they play, draw, and explore their way through the library—and find out what really happens when the library lights go out!” (with thanks to Gabrielle Spillman).
  34. Wild about Books – Judy Sierra.  “All the animals are very curious when a mobile library arrives but soon they can’t wait to learn about this new something called reading. They read thin books and fat books and Cat in the Hat books…”
  35. Winston the book wolf – Marni McGee (with thanks to Gabrielle Spillman).
  36. Wolves – Emily Gravett
  • #1 written by Janet Moore
    about 4 years ago

    There is a book by Allen Kurzweil titled The Grand Complication, which has a reference librarian as the main character, and is also set partly in a library ( in New York) It’s a thriller/crime story, but a good and educative read. Its listed on the british Library catalogue and on Amazon.

  • #2 written by Gabrielle Spillman
    about 4 years ago

    Some additions to Children’s Books:
    Lulu loves the library – Anna McQuinn
    When the library lights go out – Megan McDonald
    Winston the book wolf – Marni McGee

  • #3 written by Jess
    about 4 years ago

    Matilda- she gets her books from the library as her salvation

  • #4 written by Mary Hoffman
    about 4 years ago

    My teenage novel, Special Powers is about trying to save a public library from closure +extra-terrestrials.

  • #5 written by Stephen Hackett
    about 4 years ago

    Daniel Kirk – Library Mouse
    Curious George Goes to the Library

  • #6 written by L. Watts
    about 4 years ago

    Children’s books
    Mistress of the Storm by M.L. Welsh – plot starts with incident in a library
    Frozen in Time by Ali Sparked – seem to remember this features an evil librarian

  • #7 written by Luci
    about 4 years ago

    Glad to see some great picture books listed there, I love Library Lion and Winston the Book Wolf. Another one is Judy Sierra, Wild About Books, about the zoo animals discovering the delights of library use.

    Older children – Edward Eager, Magic By the Lake
    Older children/YA, has also been published in a grown up edition – Jane Gardam, A Long Way from Verona

    Jo Walton, Among Others, features a lonely teenage girl for whom going to the library and joining a library science fiction reading group turns out to be a bit of a lifesaver

    Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

  • #8 written by Linda Evans
    about 4 years ago

    I have one called “Is That The Library Speaking” by Ken Hornsby a great funny read the story of a man who thought working in a library would be a nice quiet calm career and then found out he was wrong!

  • #9 written by Jeannette Ayton
    about 3 years ago

    Sara Paretsky writes in ‘Blacklist’ (a V.I. Warshawski detective story) –
    ‘To my surprise, the papers were housed in a room off the main library branch – I’d pictured the collection in its own building. The library itself was doing a bustling business, mostly with women bringing their young children in to look at books, but also the usual collection of homeless and elderly that a library gathers. It’s a respectable destination. It’s warm, you can be with other people. All reasons why the Web cannot take the place of your branch library. Also it has books. And an archivist who knew and loved his collection.’

    What more needs saying!

  • #10 written by Kaethe
    about 2 years ago

    A Brief History of Montmaray – Cooper, Michelle (YA) One of the characters is the family librarian and spends all her time there

    The Queen of Attolia – Megan Whalen Turner (YA) The whole series involves a character spending a great deal of time in the library

    Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore (YA) Includes a librarian named after Lord Peter Wimsey

    The House of Many Ways – Diana Wynne Jones (MG) In this follow-up to Howl’s Moving Castle, Charmain wishes to work in a library

    Bats at the Library – Brian Lies (Children’s Picture Book) Bats in the library at night, checking out books

  • #11 written by Andrew
    about 2 years ago

    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.

  • #12 written by Edwina smart
    about 1 year ago

    Kevin Ashman India Sommers librarian and historian series

  • #14 written by Jules
    about 1 year ago

    The abortion: an historical romance
    By brautigan
    The librarian and the robbers
    By mahy
    And of course multiple books by pratchett, at the very least for the invention of L-Space

  • #15 written by Jules
    about 1 year ago

    Whoops, pratchett already and obviously listed . . .

  • #16 written by Jules
    about 1 year ago

    Titus Groan by Peake – steerpike engineers the burning of sepulchrave’s library

  • #17 written by Jules
    about 1 year ago

    Libraries make appearances in two books by Auster: the invention of solitude & invisible

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