If we weren't already aware of just how different Shin Sekai Yori's world is from our own, the unique appearance of a decidedly unusual library is surely more than enough to confirm it.
While this walking, talking, animal-like library is strictly programmed only to divulge its information to certain qualified people, it seems that it isn't entire immune to threats against its physical well-being, leading to it agreeing to divulge any information asked of it. What follows is a shocking and huge dump of information about the history of humanity in the intervening period between our present day and the far flung future. In short, the discovery of psychic powers hugely changed the fabric of society, and as the number of people with such powers increased so did the numbers looking to abuse those powers to criminal ends, in turn turning the rest of the populace against them and ultimately leaving to devastating wars which decimated the populace while those with powers evolved at an alarming rate. From here, the remaining humans, split into numerous factions, waxing and waning all the way through to the current day.
As our group of youngsters try to come to terms with all of this and begin to understand where they stand in the wider world-view, their education session is interrupted by the destruction of the Minoshiro that was guiding them through this history lesson. The culprit is a monk named Rijin, who seems to know all about the children and has no hesitation in informing them that they've broken a number of laws before sealing away their powers. As he attempts to take the kids back to his temple to face whatever punishment and questioning awaits them, it seems that Rijin and his charges have attracted some unwanted and violent attention from Monster Rats and even more dangerous beasts...
Although I've complained quite recently about certain shows (I'm looking at you, Psycho-Pass) vomiting exposition at the viewer with little regard to wrapping it up more subtly into its narrative, and although Shin Sekai Yori's huge wall of knowledge must have worked much better in novel form, the back story told here is thankfully more than compelling enough to be worth sitting through all of those monologues and explanations - indeed, it was really quite fascinating to hear the whole story of mankind over the past 1,000 years, and it offers plenty of food for thought regarding what is to come... food likely to be supplemented by the curious and violent goings-on after Rijin's appearance on the scene. Things are hotting up in this series, that's for sure.