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Having a library in your home can lend it a certain sense of sophistication. It is a sign of refinement, intelligence, and prosperity. Unfortunately, building a library is too expensive, and too difficult; its way beyond the means of any normal family home, right?

Wrong. In reality adding a library to your home is easier then you may think, and can be less expensive then you might guess. While there are inherent limitations to some living spaces, even these obstacles can be overcome if you are willing to think in new and creative ways about the organization of your space.


The basic necessary components for creating a home library are very simple. You need books, you need shelves to place the books in, and you need space for the shelves. There are many other components which can finish the space, intellectual items, comfortable furniture, esoteric displays, but these are all secondary to the primary components of the library. Finding ways to organize these basic elements in your home is going to give your library its definition, and begin the process of creating the space.


Before you begin designing your library you need to figure out where it is going to go. The best thing you can do is choose a room which you can totally dedicate to the library. It doesn't have to be a large space, it just needs to be tidy, and have ample wall space for storing books. Rooms with a large number of windows, or other natural units in the walls, will be difficult to use as you will have to add shelving that fits around these structures.

A space with a high ceiling is ideal, as you can stack books all the way to the top, creating an impressive display of knowledge. That way you also are able to use a ladder to reach the highest books, which greatly increases the perceived prestige of the room.

If you don't have a whole room to dedicate to your library, it is possible to create a hybrid which will serve some of the same purposes, while sharing the space with other utilities. Some ideas include sharing library space with a computer room, where media such as CD's, DVD's, and movies will be categorized alongside books and maps. Other ideas are library / game room hybrids, music room, libraries, and lounge, libraries.

Any space can really be a library hybrid. All you need is to decorate the walls in shelves and books, rather then in paint and wall paper. This has the advantage of not only creating a living décor which will change every time someone takes out a book, but will also give the room a sense of intelligence and sophistication that cannot be achieved in any other way. This is the reason many professionals decorate their offices with large shelves of books.


There are three major kinds of shelves you can have in your library. These are recessed, free standing, and hanging shelf units. Each style has qualities that lend themselves to use, however arguably the most attractive and utilitarian of these choices are recessed shelves. These will take up the least space, require the least amount of preparation, and they will usually look the most professional. They alsoi don't suffer from the corner conundrum, where dimensional shelf units meeting at a rooms corner, will be forced to either block one another, or leave an empty square of space behind them. However few homes will already have a space with recessed shelves set up in such a way that they can create a library and many won't want to go to the expense of having them installed. In this situation there are a number of alternative shelving strategies one can use.

Free standing shelves are blocks of storage which rise to a predetermined height, and have a set width and depth. Some units will allow you to choose the position and space between the shelves within the unit, while others will not. These pieces can look very professional, and can usually be purchased in matching sets. In a library many will want a traditional style shelf, made from classic materials like old oak or maple. Metal and plastic shelves are considerably less expensive, but will also somewhat detract from the style you are trying to evoke in the space. These units can also be used to create partitions in your library. If the room is large enough, a free standing shelf can be placed in the center, to increase book storage, and give the room the feel of a serious research center.

The problem with free standing shelves is that as predetermined blocks, they don't give you a lot of flexibility as far as the arrangement of the space. For more freedom, wall shelves are a good alternative. Installed by you or your contractor these units can go anywhere you want, going all of the way up to the ceiling and reaching all of the way down to the floor. They can fit into inconvenient nooks, and corner units can be installed in the joint where two walls meet.

The drawback to hanging shelves is that if they are not installed in a very precise manner, they will look amateurish. The inherent freedom they offer can easily degenerate into chaos, if they are not added to the room in straight lines, with neat linear rows. They should also be of uniform material, style, and if possible size.


Without books you won't have a library. Luckily, you can choose to populate the room with any kinds of books you want. Depending on your choices, your home may become a reading hotspot amongst your friends, with people constantly browsing and borrowing from your vast collection of literature for their next great read.

Books can be very expensive, especially when you buy new or rare editions. This is why many people will want to populate the bulk of their library with used books, saving their best and most expensive copies for special displays about the space. The best place to buy used books is to visit your local used book store. This way you will be able to physically browse through another's collection of used books and periodicals, and purchase them at a greatly discounted price. You will also be able to get some ideas about how to organize your own library. Further, these stores will often have clearance sales, or bulk sales, where large numbers of books can be purchased for very little, to quickly populate your library. Other places to explore when searching for books include used book websites, libraries where they will often sell off old books, and yard sales.

Library Accessories

There are a lot of accents you can add to your library that will take the bare bones components of books and shelves, and add a personal style to the room. These extras will finish the definition of the space, allowing you to create a no nonsense research depository, a quiet reading lounge, or a personal museum.

Utilitarian accessories will make your library a more useful and comfortable space. Items such as chairs, lounges, or even a small couch, can provide a comfortable spot to sit and read. A plush carpet is a novel way to achieve the same effect, while increasing the posh elegance of the space. A fireplace can also make the room warm and cozy, but is rather dangerous in an area that is so full of flammable materials.

Display items are often used in libraries to enhance the effect one is trying to achieve with the room. Some of these items include rare and out of print books, old maps, globes, or works of art. Usually display items are expensive or rare, with some sort of educational or historical value.

Unlike other rooms where the walls are usually free for decorating, in the library the walls are full of books, and decorations usually need to be concentrated in shelves and on tables. This is the reason that sculpture, plants, and items such as dictionaries of chess boards are so common in the Library. They can provide a focus to the room, without detracting from its real purpose as a library.

A home library is not out of your reach. Depending on the way your home's interior is designed, and the amount of free space you have, you may need to get creative about the application and location of the library; however in most cases it should be possible. The only real consideration is how you want to evoke it, and what you want it to accomplish. These are decisions which are personal to you, and which will give your library a personal touch.

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