First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.
I am a librarian, although I no longer work as such. I received my Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of California at Berkeley way back in the day when it had a School of Library and Information Studies (the School was rebranded in 1994 and no longer graduates librarians). For over thirty years, I worked in a bunch of different libraries and archives – public, academic, and special (corporate and museum) – mainly as a freelance librarian. My specialty was cataloging.
So how does this inform my writing? Plenty.
Most of my books and stories have a reference to a library – often a private library for my aristocratic and noble characters – or, at least, to the act of reading. In my stories, love blossoms in libraries, or sex happens in libraries.
What follows is a sampling of some of the library references in my books. Warning: there may be a spoiler or two for the stories you haven’t read!
Clara borrows Sam’s copy of Fanny Hill from his small collection of books and ends up being a voyeur to Sam and Pat having sex.
N.B. This is hands down my favorite library-ish scene I’ve ever written. There is an in joke that relies on the reader’s knowledge of a scene in Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) where Fanny watches two young men engage in homosexual sex. The scene was originally expurgated in the 19th century and not all editions contain it.
The emperor and his wife engage in a furtive marital act in the library at the Governor’s Palace in Londinium. The scene is watched by an astonished Suetonius whose gossip results in disaster.
Sabina finally let the smile she had been hiding spread across her lips, her eyes glowing with eagerness as she watched her husband close the library door. Instinctively, he looked around, then, certain they were alone, he pulled her up out of her chair and into his arms.
“You’re playing with fire, Graeculus,” Sabina giggled, playfully tugging at his beard.
“The fire burns inside, Vibia. Only you can quench it.”
“Here?” She glanced around, her eyes widened wantonly.
Hadrian lifted her onto the table and pushed up her skirts. His mouth plundered hers as he separated her knees with a strong thigh. His fingers explored the feminine flesh between her legs until they were covered in sticky moisture.
Romance writer Jean Swan is a part-time librarian. She realizes how handsome Eric is while she’s working the reference desk in an academic library.
** Spoiler Alert **
Steampunk library! Delia seduces Edward in the library.
She opened the door to the library, surprised to find the fire recently laid. It was eerie how the servants could anticipate wants and needs, and it still unsettled her how the mechanical staff resembled actual maids and footmen. She sauntered over to the bookshelves and tilted her head to skim the spines hoping for a salacious gothic novel.
Professor Ockham’s baritone shot a spark of desire through her. “Professor?” She turned around.
Numerous references! Helena remembers finding naughty books in her parents’ private library which “inspired” her to do some self-exploration. Lavinia and Nicholas have a rough tumble in her library. Sophia and Joseph are witnessed having sex in their library.
** Spoiler Alert **
Henny loses her virginity in Arthur’s library. Arthur has a special moment with Joseph in the same room. There’s a bookstore scene where Sophia discovers some books are different than others.
Lots of library references in this one, as well. Arthur and Lavinia have sex in a library of erotic books. Lavinia uses her private library for a clandestine affair.
Libraries are wonderful institutions providing spaces and opportunities for edification and imagination.
They also can be fun.
How will you celebrate National Library Week?