Cool Bookish Places

Which DOCTOR WHO Library Is the Best DOCTOR WHO Library?

Derek Attig

Staff Writer

Derek works in graduate student career development and is (believe it or not) one of the world's foremost experts on the history of bookmobiles. Follow Derek on Twitter @bookmobility and on Instagram @bookmobility.

As a fellow Rioter noted recently, the Doctor is a literary hero. He’s also a library hero. Libraries pop up again and again, and when Doctor Who does libraries, it does them grandly.

I thought my favorite Doctor Who library would always be the 51st-century library featured in the award-winning 2008 episodes “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead.” But, after “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” (which aired late last month), I’m not so sure. Granted, the former got two whole episodes where the library in “Journey” is on screen for mere minutes. But it was entirely enrapturing all the same.

I can’t decide which I like better, so I figured I’d ask you all to help out.

Here follows my thinking about the two libraries, with pros and cons for each. Then it’ll be up to you to settle the matter once and for all (or until the Doctor and his companions wander their way into another awesome library).


In these gorgeous, creepy episodes, the Doctor and Donna visit a library planet (yes, planet) in the 51st century to see the universe’s knowledge in all its glory. Gory is more like it, though. They find the library deserted except for an archeological team eager to find out what went wrong when every patron suddenly disappeared and the planet was quarantined.


  • Obviously, there’s the fact that it contains every book ever published anywhere, in any form. Because: GIMME.
  • No need for a print-vs.-digital debate, since you get the best of both worlds. All the books are printed—since, as the Doctor puts it, “you need the…smell of books”—but the library itself is run by an extraordinarily powerful computer (of sorts).
  • It’s pretty damn grand, both in scale and architecturally speaking:
Doctor Who Silence Library Planet

The whole planet is covered with these buildings, and they’re all FULL OF BOOKS.

Doctor Who Silence Main Room

“Pretty,” I think we call it.

  • A teleportation system means you can pop by for a book from anywhere, as well as navigate the planet-sized library with ease. Anyone who’s scoured the stacks at even a decent-sized library can understand the lazy appeal of that.



  • It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? I can’t even really wrap my brain around it. I worry I’d end up cowering in a corner—probably in the movie novelization section, or something equally embarrassing—unable to take advantage of the opportunity.
  • The “librarians” are machines with creepy human faces:
Not okay. "Uncanny valley," people. Look it up.

Not okay. “Uncanny valley,” people. Look it up.

  • Oh, and speaking of faces, the library happens to be infested with the shadow-dwelling, flesh-eating Vashta Nerada:
How are you supposed to read all the books after the bugs eat your eyes?

How are you supposed to read all the books after the bugs eat your eyes?



In this recent episode, a TARDIS crash (it seems to break down a lot, come to think of it) separates the Doctor and Clara, the latter of whom gets lost in the labyrinthine spaceship. As she tries to find her way back to the control room, Clara is pursued by a monster of some fashion, and she hides in a library that’s, well…let’s just say that Clara mutters, “Now that’s just showing off” when she first sees it, and I can’t blame her.


  • I mean, just look at it. The levels, the arches, the wallpaper, the skylight (which you can’t see in this shot, but I promise it’s there). And the books, the books, the books
I think "Gasp!" is the appropriate response.

I think “Gasp!” is the appropriate response.

  • It’s a library in the TARDIS, so you know it’s full of batshit-awesome things. Like an encyclopedia of a near-extinct species that doesn’t have any pages. Because it’s IN BOTTLES THAT TALK:
I don't think you're supposed to drink it.

I don’t think you’re supposed to drink it.

  •  There’s a magisterially-displayed History of the Time War, which would make it much easier to figure out what the Doctor is on about when he’s being all cryptic about his past:
You can tell it's important because it's on a fancy stand. Like a bible. Or a dictionary.

You can tell it’s important because it’s on a fancy stand. Like a bible. Or a dictionary.

  • That it’s in the TARDIS makes it the ultimate mobile library. (Take that, bookmobiles!) With this feature, you can, for example, pause for a bit of reading amidst your desperate fight for survival:
Doctor Who Journey Clara Reading

Phew, and just when all that running and screaming was getting dull: a book!



  • The TARDIS rearranges its architecture with some regularity, so you might lose track of where the library is. And while it’s one thing to lose a library book, it’s a whole different thing to lose a whole library.
  • The TARDIS is infinite, but it doesn’t appear that the library is. It likely has fewer books than the library planet (though probably more books-that-are-actually-talking-bottles).
  • Also, zombie monster thingies that keep popping up. They’ll certainly interrupt a quiet afternoon in the library:
And here I was, just looking for a quiet place to study.

And here I was, just looking for a quiet place to study.

See, I’m torn? It’s up to you to save me from the pains of my indecision. Which of these two libraries is more awesome? (Or, lord help me, is there yet another amazing library I’m overlooking?)


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