Librarians in Historical Fiction

Celebrate National Library Week 2024 (April 7-13) by reading some of our favorite historical fiction novels about librarians and the libraries they serve.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel – As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. Sixty-five years later, a book is discovered that appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from, or what the code means. Only Eva, now working as a semi-retired librarian, holds the answer, but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

Available in regular print, large print, and audio book on CD.

The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green – In 1942, an impulsive promise to her brother before he goes off to the European front puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Though she has never been much of a reader, when wartime needs threaten to close the library, she invents a book club to keep its doors open. The women she convinces to attend the first meeting couldn’t be more different — a wealthy spinster determined to aid the war effort, an exhausted mother looking for a fresh start, and a determined young war worker. The women face personal challenges and band together in the face of danger. But when their growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.

Available in regular print and large print.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe – Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust. Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Available in regular print and large print.

The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson – London, 1944: Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While war ravages the city above her, Clara has risked everything she holds dear to turn the Bethnal Green tube station into the country’s only underground library. Down here, a secret community thrives with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café, and a theater–offering shelter, solace, and escape from the bombs that fall upon their city. Along with her glamorous best friend and assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on, the women’s determination to remain strong in the face of adversity is tested to the limits when it may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.

Available in regular print.

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong – Two women. One secret. A truth worth fighting for.
1918. Timid and shy Emmaline Balakin lives more in books than her own life. That is, until an envelope crosses her desk at the Dead Letter Office bearing a name from her past, and Emmaline decides to finally embark on an adventure of her own–as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. Then a romance blooms as she secretly participates in a book club for censored books.
1976. Kathleen Carre is eager to prove to herself and to her nana that she deserves her acceptance into the first coed class at the United States Naval Academy. But not everyone wants female midshipmen at the Academy, and after tragedy strikes close to home, Kathleen becomes a target.

Available in regular print and large print.

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