On the Guilder’s Way in the Violet City, the Great Library stands out not because of its massive stonework and height, but in the simplicity of its exterior when compared to the ostentatious structures of the five great guilds of the violet city and the dozens of minor guilds who work hard to make themselves seem as important.
An immense hexagonal structure built from the local stone, the Great Library of the Violet City contains one of the larger collections of written works in a variety of formats to be found in the kingdoms (primarily in codex form, but sections of scrolls, concertina-folded codices, and tablets exist in various wings of the structure).
Heights of the various levels are not listed in the description as that depends on how extensive and extreme you want the library to appear. If ceiling height is 15 feet, then the library will still hold a prodigious number of tomes, but with 35 foot ceilings, then the various shelves suddenly require ladders, and untold counts of ancient tomes and scrolls can fill the shelves dating back through the ages of the elven empire.
Entrance to the ground floor through the front doors leads to a lower-level atrium with stairs up eight feet into the library proper. The atrium often serves as a gathering place for those who would rather not find themselves in a tavern or public house to meet, and during times of political or social unrest there are often doomsayers and agitators in the atrium as well as the central court up the stairs. Over 80 feet across at its widest point, the atrium also has two desks where staff make themselves available to visitors and customers. While anyone can enter the library itself, those unaccompanied by a librarian will not be allowed on the upper levels and will find themselves closely watched in the main level stacks. The cost to get the assistance of a staff librarian depends on their specialty, with junior librarians who can aim you roughly where you want to go and basically act as a “hall pass” into the building having an hourly fee of 2gp (most of which is kept by the library), specialists in most topics are between 8 and 15gp per hour, and the senior librarians and sages charging between 25 and 100gp.
Shelves in this area are stocked with recent works about economics, local religion, laws, guilds, basic history, and so on. The upper right room is an incredibly boring collection of scrolls and tablets of civic law and economics with the statue of the founder of the Violet City watching over from the centre. In the back corner of the chamber is a secret trap door used to get to the basement levels of the library. The lower right room contains a number of tables for those needing to work in groups or needing large surfaces to unroll or unfold the larger works here. The upper left room contains a large number of individual work stations where junior librarians spend years transcribing texts to new books in their chosen field of study. Some of these stations are usually free for visitors looking for a quiet space to read.
Level two of the Great Library contains more esoteric works, delving into matters philosophical, historical, medicinal, magical and even extra-planar. A few guards (rented from the Securities Guild) are posted at the top and bottom of the stairs leading to this level from the central court to keep riff-raff out, and the whole level is much quieter than the main concourse. The vast majority of what would bring adventurers to the library would be found here – treatises on geography, history, plant lore, earth lore, legends, religions, other planes of existence and how they are said to be reached and so on.
The upper level of the Great Library is divided in half by the central court. On the south side of the structure are the chambers of the senior librarians – priests, sages and wizards of significant age and knowledge. On the north side are the closed stacks containing texts with actual magical formulae, tomes of dark heresies, and books that would be dangerous to read (or even touch in some cases) without proper precautions and appropriate supervision. The doors to the closed stacks are locked and magelocked and only the senior librarians have the keys and permissions to enter and leave.
Connecting the two sides of the upper level is a secret walkway between the senior sage’s office and the stacks. Sometimes the sage (and the priest, his old friend) will stand upon the walkway out of sight of the comings and goings below and use magical aids to listen to the conversations taking place on the lower levels of the library.
(Update: The maps of the basement and sub-basement levels of the Great Library of the Violet City are available here.)
Below, the three maps of the library levels are presented again, this time without grid: