Five Novels with Librarian Characters

National Library Week ended last Saturday, so I know this post is several days late. In my defense, I celebrated by traveling on a book tour with Beverly Lewis, who spoke and signed and met readers at a number of fantastic libraries in the Midwest. (You can view pictures of those signings here to get a glimpse.)

That got me started thinking about some delightful novels with librarian heroines. To celebrate libraries and librarians everywhere, give these books a try.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Librarian Character: Shy-but-fierce Anna O’Brien, one of the few female librarians in the early days of the Library of Congress.

Additional Fun Fact: The author, Elizabeth Camden, is a real-life research librarian at a university.

Bookish Quote: “Ever since becoming a librarian, she’d been feeling the vibrant golden chain that reached back centuries to other librarians, archivists, and historians, all of whom had chosen the same quest: the collection and preservation of the world’s knowledge. Was there any more noble pursuit in all of human history?”

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Librarian Character: Imaginative and somewhat-flighty Alice Grace Ripley, who supplies books to rural Appalachia when she loses her librarian job during the Great Depression.

Additional Fun Fact: The story includes historical details about “packhorse librarians” who rode up the mountains with books in the 1930s.

Bookish Quote: “Librarians are serious people, seldom given to idle jocularity. The reason for this, I believe, is because we are overwhelmed by the enormous number of good books waiting to be read, leaving little time for frivolity. My personal list of must-read books presents a daunting challenge; I can’t even imagine the pressure that our head librarian must be under.”

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Librarian Character: The mysterious Rosemary Gresham, posing as a librarian to spy on a potential threat to Britain during WWI.

Additional Fun Fact: All of our ideas for the book cover revolved around a library scene, but a few of the alternate covers showed Rosemary’s (fake) wire-rimmed spectacles.

Bookish Quote: “How bad could a library really be? She had her answer when Holstein swung the double doors open, inward. Perhaps, once, the room had been majestic. The ceiling soared high overhead, a magnificent mural painted on it. The chamber stretched the whole width of the house. Shelves lined the walls, floor to towering ceiling. Lined with books, all of them. Then with books stacked in front of them. Books stacked on the floor. Books stacked on the chairs, the tables, lining the windowsills. Boxes of them. Random cases of them at odd places.”

True to You by Becky Wade

Librarian Character: Sweet and spunky Nora Bradford, genealogist and library director in a historical village.

Additional Fun Fact: Nora is a true bookworm who is particularly fond of period dramas—several real ones and one Becky invented for the story.

Bookish Quote: “I found this place five years ago,” she told him. “I love it except that I’ve run out of bookshelf space again, so I’m going to have to declare eminent domain on yet another wall. I don’t have many walls left. Soon I’ll have books as a kitchen backsplash.”

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

Librarian Character: Gentlewoman Rachel Ashford, the somewhat-reluctant owner of a lending library she created with books inherited from her father.

Additional Fun Fact: The quotes introducing Chapter One are excerpts from primary sources about the circulating libraries of the Regency period.

Bookish Quote: He grinned. “Did I not promise you would learn to enjoy reading? And far more quickly than I imagined.”
She nodded. “And I’ve told several people how much I am enjoying the book, so I already have a waiting list to read it when I am finished.”
His dark eyes glimmered with approval and something more. Admiration? Fondness? Pleasure and fear twisted through her in a single chord. Careful, Rachel warned herself. Don’t confuse a love of books with something more.

Just for fun, we’ll pick two commenters to win their choice of one of the books above. (Winners will be chosen on 4/26/18.) To enter, answer this question in the comments: What is something you love about your local library?

43 thoughts on “Five Novels with Librarian Characters

  1. I have read all these except Julie Klassens book. Each one excellent. My first trip to a library was when I was about four years old. I fell in love with books, and the library has been my favorite place ever since. My local library is in the rural part of my town and not large, but has access to others in the system. I love to go and peruse books, new and old. Finding favorites and ordering newer novels. The free public library system is one of the best things offered to us. Thank you Benjamin Franklin and the others for their insight for sharing information and for what it has become.

  2. I love my local library because of all the books! It is small but has many titles that I have not read (yet). May I confess I am the librarian there and love all the people that come in to borrow items! 😉

    All these titles sound great – these authors are numbered among my favorites!

  3. Some of these are old books that I’ve read. I would rather see the new ones coming in the current year. Thank you!

  4. I love how friendly and willing to answer questions the librarians are at our local small town library. They’re always willing to go the extra mile, and I’ve lost track of how many books they’ve added to their collection based on my requests! (I read A LOT. 😉 )

    I’ve read the books by Wade, White, Klassen and Camden listed and loved them all, especially True to You and A Name Unknown. Librarians make for such fun characters!

  5. I was so excited when I saw this post because I am an academic librarian and we just celebrated NLW with a Blackout Poetry Station and Edible Book Contest! One of my local public libraries is housed in the town’s historic courthouse on a hill and the recently completed renovation is beautiful. They have a wonderful children’s collection and there are balconies with rocking chairs for leisure reading or just relaxing and taking in the mountains and busy main street below. I haven’t read any of these books yet but they all look great.

  6. Getting a library card was one of the first things I did when I moved to Texas 15 years ago. As soon as my kids (now 10 and 12) were able to write their names, they got their own cards. We have been going to the library for books and events so much that all the librarians know us by name. They are a wonderful folk — patient, kind, always smiling. My son just signed up as a teen volunteer at the library, and his desire is to become a librarian when he grows up. Needless to say, I love it. I would work at the library myself if I had the time.
    I enjoy reading books that have librarians as main characters. I have read or listened — more than once — to three books listed, and I absolutely love them all. But I own none. I would like to, though, very much, be able to just read and reread any of those books at my leisure without having to worry about their due date. Wouldn’t that be a bliss!?

  7. I love my local library because they know I read so many books that they started ordering books for certain genres based upon what is on my to be read list. 🙂

  8. We’re on a retired limited budget and love that we can borrow great books to read. I always scan the shelves to find books by trusted publishers. Another plus is being active members of the Friends of the Library committee and getting to personally know the librarians!

  9. I read The Ladies of Ivy Cottage and A Name Unknown. Both are great books. I love the warm inviting atmosphere at my library. Plus what’s not to love about a room full of books.

  10. I have the Elizabeth Camden book but haven’t read it yet. I also have some books by Julie Klassen but not the one pictured. I am at the library right now. There’s a branch nearby. I go all the time – most weekdays since I don’t have a computer at home. I like getting the latest DVD’s (although I may have to wait a while if I don’t request it right away). I also check out books and magazines and books on CD and Playaway. Occasionally I check out a music CD. I like using the desktop computers (Internet) and the WiFi for my tablet and phone. I can use Overdrive and Hoopla for audiobooks, e-books, and movies and TV.

    We have a great library system here in Toledo with about 18 or 19 branches. They will be working on the Main Library and are supposed to close it later this year. It may be closed for almost a year! since they haven’t had a lot of remodeling in almost 20 years.

  11. Well..I actually work at my local library, so I love that it has provided me with a job! But also I love that it provides free access to computers for anyone (even without a library card), that it offers free yoga and meditation classes, and that it offers loads of other free resources in addition to books!

    And so many of those above have been on my TBR list for awhile! 🙂

  12. I’m 72 years old today, and I still love libraries. Why do I love them so much? Because they were always there for me and growing up they took me to places I loved. They were a safe place to spend hours trying to keep my choices to the required minimum, and I was allowed to take them home with me at no cost! I was never late returning them by the date they were due back, and I looked forward to checking out new books at each trip. Now that I’m older there are chairs to sit down in which is very important to me. Because of health issues standing, up for even short periods of time is getting more difficult with the years. I have learned so many things and travelled so many places – all with the gift of wonderful books.

  13. I love how everybody “knows” everybody. Also another neat thing is watching the volunteers help kids in after school programs

  14. What a fun post! Our library has an excellent Christian fiction section (lots of Bethany House books!) and they also have a big section for classic musicals (DVD/VHS)!

  15. what a wonderful group of books. i love that our library has a lot of seating. in the adult section one such seating is around a fireplace. another is with a lot of art. another is surrounded by technical things, computers etc. and then there are numerous seating areas for the children. one is seating on pillows surrounded by jungle animals and plants. one is comfy chairs their size that is surrounded by books galore. one is seating is on a rug surrounded by plants. there are just a lot of seating areas.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  16. Oh, my! I’m making notes to find these. The only one I’ve read is Wonderland Creek. Though I have read a couple of the other authors, just not these books. All sound like books I will want as “keepers” on my own shelves! Hoping I can begin with winning one here. 😊

    • Oh dear. Forgot to mention the requested information. What I love most about my library is the website and online app that allows me to search and even download books easily from home. Also that they will purchase books per request if they don’t have them in their collection. They have done this many times for me over the years.

  17. I live in a small town so our library is also small. One thing I greatly appreciate is that we can get books from other libraries in Kansas through interlibrary loan. I can give our librarian a list of books I want to read and she will request them for me. I’ve read three of the books you selected for this post and all were wonderful. Beyond All Dreams and The Ladies of Ivy Cottage are still on my “want to read” list.

  18. I love the quiet calm of our local library. In a world that’s always too busy and too loud, I enjoy stepping into an atmosphere of knowledge, peace and literature. There, the world can be enjoyed.

  19. I love taking my kids to several local libraries. I love libraries because they are a great place to teach children to love reading.

  20. I love the abundance of books to choose from in the library! And my very favorite reason to go to the library is to attend an “Author Talk”! I love meeting authors and hearing the story of how their books came to be!

  21. I am a librarian, but I love our local public, school, academic, and special librarians for going the distance in helping their patrons find information for research, pleasure reading, career information, and so much more! They are top notch.

  22. What a great collection of books highlighting librarians. I’ve read all of them except Roseaana White’s novel. So enjoyed them! Thanks for the bookish facts!

    Mary

  23. Oh! These books are lovely and sound fabulous! The library is one of my favorite places and the first thing I do after walking through the door is breathe in deep, smelling the awesome scent of the printed page.

  24. Bibliotecas = Un lugar Maravilloso!❤
    When I was about 6 year old my oldest brother took me to the local library in our new area while he met his girlfriends. As I was browsing the books the lovely librarian asked me questions about the books I liked and what will be lovely to read!, since then I got hooked to visit libraries wherever country and new area I’m in.

  25. For a relatively small town (15,000), my local library has a great selection of books. If they don’t have a new book I am looking for, they are quick to add it to the list of books to order. They also have a large selection of Christian fiction. It’s sad to see that a lot of the patrons are just there to use the free internet. I don’t think I have ever left my library without at least one book in my hands. There is no better feeling than having a new book to read.

  26. Our local library is only ten minutes away from my house. (It’s actually a branch of the main library which is about 20 minutes away!) Although it is small, I love it because I know all the librarians and the librarians know all the patrons. Chatting with the librarians about books, getting their recommendations, and giving them mine is so fun. I love the friendly, small-town feel of my library!

  27. I am our church library director, so I truly love libraries! I’m partial to the church library, but going to our local library is still a thrill. Just the size of it and all the books on display make me want to just grab a few and sit down and start reading in search of my new favorite book! They have a good selection of Christian fiction and I’m always telling someone that may be standing close to me that “hey, this is a very good book. I’m sure you’d enjoy it!” And the smell of books! Am I the only one who just loves the way a library smells? Next to being in a church, the library gives me a nice quiet place to feel peaceful.

  28. I have read 3 out of the five books and enjoyed them. I’d like to tell you about a library we went to when my girls were young. It was near enough we could walk. You could borrow everything. The normal things like books, audio books, music, movies and games and puzzles. But they also had sheet music and framed art for your walls. They taught all kinds of crafts and classes in thr evenings. We walked there several times a week.

  29. I love my local public library because it was my second home for over twenty years! I began there as a clerk who worked one day a week and 22 1/2 years later I was the cataloger, technology librarian and I did interlibrary loans. Our library budget didn’t permit us to purchase every book that a patron requested and interlibrary loans allowed us to get those books from other libraries. This public library still does it best to serve our county!
    I am thrilled that these books give librarians their chance to shine!

  30. I love the fact that Parrott-Wood Memorial Library is the “heart” of Strawberry Plains, Tenn. It is a safe place for families to bring their children and it doesn’t hurt that the library provides a therapy dog – Remington – for the kids to read to! Truly a blessing for our community 💜 plus, you can’t beat the many educational programs that Donna and her team provide for both adults and children 💕

  31. I love libraries because I love books but there is something “unbookish” that I love about our local library. I have a special needs son who does not like to go many places but our library has a children’s area that he enjoys so the library is one of the few places we can go out to for fun..

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