Sunnydale High School library
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|Sunnydale High School library|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer location|
|Notable characters||Rupert Giles
The Sunnydale High School library is a fictional location on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, central to the show's first three seasons.
Michael Betancourt suggests in his essay "Educating Buffy: The Role of Education in Buffy the Vampire Slayer," that the Sunnydale High School library is a central metaphor for the characters' coming-of-age, both social and sexual, that informs the entire series.
Students and other visitors enter the library through swinging double doors equipped with small, round windows. The library's vestibule leads past the checkout counter, behind which is the doorway that leads into the librarian's private office.
The library occupied two levels.
The lower level is devoted to a large study table surrounded by chairs and illuminated by lamps with yellow glass shades. Occasionally, a computer occupies a place at the table. Old-fashioned card catalogues stand to one side of the library. A book cage for the storage of rare volumes is located at the rear of the library's lower level.
A short flight of stairs leads from the lower to the upper level.
The library's upper level is fronted by a low bookcase and a handrail. It is occupied with rows of bookshelves, or stacks. A doorway at the rear of the upper story allows egress from the library's upper level. Hemispherical windows are set high in one of the side walls.
A large skylight in the center of the ceiling admits sunlight into the library and allows access to the library from the school's rooftop. During a fight with The Master, a centuries-old vampire, Buffy flips him through the skylight, and he falls upon the broken edge or leg of an upturned table ("Prophecy Girl").
In addition to the traditional volumes and periodicals that an American high school library may be expected to contain, the Sunnydale High School library houses an extensive collection of esoteric and occult works. Many of these books take as their topics forces, entities, and phenomena that are of a supernatural or a paranormal character. In their companion volume to the television show, Dusted: The Unauthorized Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the authors keep track of the many strange books on magic and metaphysics that the Sunnydale High School library contains.
As Dusted's authors point out, the library's holdings are inclusive, so much so that librarian Rupert Giles tells one of his students to focus on texts concerning "reanimation theory" while he pokes around the stacks regarding "organ harvesting." The episode "Graduation Day" suggests that these books are available to students for checkout, and one student, Xander Harris, does check out two books on witchcraft because, he confesses, they have pictures of scantily clad women among their illustrations.
In the first episode of the series, Giles tries to interest the school's newcomer, Buffy Summers, in a book entitled VAMPYR. Another book, the title of which is not mentioned, predicts the Harvest, a supernatural event that occurs during the series' second episode.
These occult and esoteric volumes are mentioned in the series:
- Vampyr (shown in "Welcome to the Hellmouth")
- Witches: Historic Roots to Modern Practice (mentioned in "Witch")
- The Pagan Rites (mentioned in "Witch")
- The Book of Aurelius (mentioned in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date")
- Sherman Jeffries' work on cults (mentioned in "The Pack")
- Malleus Maleficarum (mentioned in "The Pack")
- The Watchers' diaries (mentioned in "Angel")
- The Pergamum Codex - this book was lost, but Angel brings Giles a copy (mentioned in "Out of Sight, Out of Mind")
- The Tiberius Manifesto - This book, like The Pergamum Codex, was lost (mentioned in "Out of Sight, Out of Mind")
- Legends of Vishnu (mentioned in "Out of Sight, Out of Mind")
- The Black Chronicles (mentioned in "Prophecy Girl")
- An unnamed Latin translation of a Sumerian revivification ritual (mentioned in "When She Was Bad")
- An encoded book of spells and rituals written in archaic Latin by theologian and mathematician Josephus de Lac (mentioned in "What's My Line, Part One")
- The Slayers Handbook (mentioned but not seen in "What's My Line, Part Two")
- Dramius' writings (in at least six volumes) (mentioned in "What's My Line, Part Two")
- An unnamed volume concerning the Order of Taraka (mentioned in "What's My Line, Part Two")
- Bristow's Demon Index (mentioned in "Bad Eggs")
- Hell's Offspring (mentioned in "Bad Eggs")
- An unnamed text concerning Angelus (mentioned in "Passion")
- A book containing drawings of demons, including a cover illustration of Der Kindestod (mentioned in "Killed by Death")
- Two books on the Ovu Mobani mask (mentioned in "Dead Man's Party")
- Exploring Demon Dimensions (mentioned in "Beauty and the Beasts")
- Mystery of Acathla (mentioned in "Beauty and the Beasts")
- Sir Robert Kane’s Twilight Compendium (mentioned in "Revelations")
- A volume containing Father Theodore of Wolsham’s engraving of the Glove of Myhnegon (mentioned in "Revelations")
- A book concerning the demon Anyanka (mentioned in "The Wish")
- Diary of Lucius Temple (mentioned in "Amends")
- A series of letters regarding The First (mentioned in "Amends")
- Blood Rites and Sacrifices (mentioned in "Gingerbread")
- Hebron’s Almanac (mentioned in "The Zeppo")
- Merenshtadt Text (mentioned in "Enemies")
- A book on poison, including the poison that Faith Lehane uses in her attempt to kill the vampire Angel (mentioned in "Graduation Day, Part One")
- Kippler volumes (mentioned in "Graduation Day, Part Two")
Although Giles admits that his library contained neither Hume’s Paranormal Encyclopedia nor The Labyrinth Maps of Malta; these books, he said, were on order.
In the last two episodes of the series’ third season, Buffy and her friends remove Giles’ books from the school library in anticipation of their detonation of explosives they’ve stockpiled in the library as a means of destroying Mayor Richard Wilkins after he has ascended to the level of a “pure demon.” The books are relocated to The Magic Box, a store that Giles buys after resigning as Sunnydale High’s librarian. The characters continue to use the books they have rescued from the library to identify demons and other supernatural and paranormal threats, adding to their ever-growing collection.
Sunnydale High School is rebuilt, in an entirely different, more modern architectural design. Although it contains a library, the new library does not house any of the special collections that the original library contained and, in the new school, the principal's office, not the library, is located directly over Sunnydale's Hellmouth.
Other features of the library
The high school library also contains a book cage in which Giles keeps expensive, rare volumes. It is used for the first time when Xander is possessed by a hyena spirit, and Buffy and Willow lock him in there as a precaution, though it is later destroyed by both Xander and the other hyena spirits. After Oz becomes a werewolf as a result of having been bitten by his cousin, Giles would lock him inside the book cage until he transforms back into a human being. Buffy, Faith Lehane, Willow Rosenberg, and Xander Harris would take turns guarding Oz to make sure he does not escape. In addition to the stacks and book cage, the library has space for Giles’ private office, and there is a trapdoor hidden behind the stacks that leads outside the school building.
Diamond Comic Distributors offers a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sunnydale Library Playset for sale, describing the item as having "an occult section larger than the Smithsonian’s," reminding customers that the library "served as the Scooby Gang’s not-so-secret headquarters for three years," and vowing that it is "perfect for displaying... Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures." The playset is constructed according to the "two-level design" that characterized the show's library and includes "a table, moveable bookcases, and several other extra accessories." It sells for $60.