While the The Eight-Sided Library
is only intimately known to a few, it has a wide following, and many individuals and organizations are aware of its existence and purpose. Many of these have loosely joined ranks under the innocuous name Friends of the Library
The Friends vary in purpose and intent, some wish to spread the tenets of the Library to the wider world, some want access to be greater, some wish it to be less. Some envision the library as being a useful tool to their greater designs, while others determine that the best value of the Library is when it is little known, little sought after, with highly restricted access.
How can so many groups and individuals come together under one alliance? A question both simple and complex. Each participant in the library accepts that there is value in that structure, and in what it contains and its stated goals. Every member of the Friends has a different perspective on how best to support the Library, or how best to exploit it. Much like a family with a child prodigy, each family member will have a different idea on what should happen to the gifted one.
Mother may want to show her off, or protect her from exploitation; Father sees a way to have his daughter help the family financially; the older brother sees a pest and a problem and younger sister sees someone who is getting all the attention and she doesn't like it. The prodigy keeps her thoughts to herself. Nevertheless, they are all in the family.
Members of the Friends
usually gather once a year for a general meeting, or convocation. Attendees talk shop, develop short and long-term alliances, create friend or foe lists, consider organizations for membership, speculate on what the Library has been up to, and use it as an excuse to party. Actual representatives of the Library are rarely in attendance, at least with any verifiable credentials. A common rumor has it that individuals from the Library always show up, but disguise their affiliation.
The constituency of the Alliance changes frequently. It is very old and has outlived both nations and members. From the perspective of the Library it could be said that all members are transient, or equally accurately, that all are permanent - the Library does not experience time in the same way as others.
For informational purposes, below is a very small sampling of some of the Alliance members, past and present:
- The House Hapsburg
- The United Nations Committee on Improving Indigenous Education
- The Vatican Library
- The Freedom to Read Association
- The Sewer Rats
- The Arcane Magi
- The Duchy of Neudon
- The Salvation Assassins
The nature of this Alliance allows for a wide range of diverse groups, but like any human organization, there are greater and lesser individuals and groups. While not actively shunned, the 'lesser' members will not receive the same welcome or have the same influence as the 'greater' players in terms of goals, agendas, actions or focus of the body as a whole.
Some have postulated to themselves, when at the annual gathering, that perhaps the Library uses this Alliance, much as the Alliance attempts to use the Library. Perhaps it is the Library's experiment, a microcosm of human behavior to see if human nature has improved and if It can share more secrets.
: The Friends of the Library does not speak for the Library and the motives and goals of this alliance in no way represent the Eight-sided Library. Their schemes are their own.
The origins of the Friends is murky. The existence of The Eight-Sided Library has been known or suspected since mankind first began recording his thoughts via a written medium. What old records exist that reference the alliance show members as far back as ancient Egypt, with some tantalizing traces leading back deeper still into Sumeria. There are also hints of semi-mythical kingdoms like Suddene and Kitezh having involvement.
From what can be read in the old histories, or intuited from the organizations that made up the early membership, it seems that then as now the goals were mixed. Some wanted to use the Library for power, some wanted individual gain, some were there just to make sure their rivals or enemies gained no such access. Some few truly wanted to understand the nature of the Library and act as its agents. Because the Library appears eternal, and the composition of the Friends changes over time, the same goals persist, just the agents with those goals change.