Great Library

Great Library - The Citadel

The Great Library isn't The Citadel's only library, but it is by far the largest. The broad stone building is a circle some one hundred and twenty feet in diameter.

Its walls are sandy-coloured stone, but it is roofed with a great dome of heavy glass blocks. Most of them are ordinary inexpensive glass, tinted blue-green by impurities in the sand from which they were made, but there are also a few courses of half-sized, coloured pieces interspersed. They make a pattern of concentric rings — a circle of cobalt, one of ruby, one of white, one of amber, another amethyst, another emerald green. The blocks are far too thick to see through, but during the day the dome glows with sunlight. It is a thing of astounding beauty, and also floods the library with reading light.

The room is dotted with heavy tables of various sizes and age, ranging from desks to suit a single man (albeit one who likes to spread his work out) to ones to suit a study group of twelve. Most of the chairs are not padded, but they're comfortable. There are also cabinets of paper and ink and chalk.

There are some bookshelves on the central floor, and the grand dark mahogany cabinet of maps is in the very middle of the room, a monolith of huge shallow drawers. However, the bulk of the collection is stored along the walls. The building is ringed with shelves up to the bottom of the dome nearly thirty feet above. One can climb a ladder to a ring of balcony, walk along it to browse the shelves of books and cubbies of scrolls, and climb again to another ring, and a third. The shelves at the floor level are raised up a few feet off the flagstones, in case of flooding, and interrupted here and there by narrow doors that lead to small rooms.

A number of novices and acolytes are assigned work in the Great Library, and they scurry about on the ladders and balconies, fetching and replacing books or sitting at tables copying out worn volumes anew.

Old Scroll Room - Great Library - The Citadel

This room is on the outside edge of the Great Library building, and is curved — it's a section of a ring. It's about seventeen feet wide, but two and a half times as long. There are no real windows, but there are wide rows of blue-green glass blocks set into the outer walls. They're too thick to see outside, but they let in light. It's possible to pull heavy drapes over them and darken the room.

It is here that the oldest scrolls are stored, in big cabinets with heavy wooden doors that keep the paper and parchments away from the damaging effects of light. Inside, each document has its own cubby, and each cubby has a curved bottom to cradle the delicate objects as tenderly as possible.

There are no rugs, and the tables and chairs are uncovered. There's space for a few groups of people to study, or perhaps copy out the documents.

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