How to Create a Home Library

Library Furniture

This lucky person has lots of room for a home library that incorporates built-in bookshelves, comfy seating and ample light.
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While it might be difficult for a book lover to spend money on something other than books, at some point, you will need some bookshelves. Recessed, or built-in, bookshelves can provide floor-to-ceiling storage and space savings. They can be tucked under staircases or other out-of-the-way spaces; however, they're not a good choice for renters, and they can represent a big investment in terms of price and installation. Freestanding bookcases are widely available in a variety of sizes, colors and price points. You can also mount hanging bookshelves onto the wall or buy glass cases, which might be preferable if your collection includes antique books that you want to preserve.

Sagging poses the main threat to bookshelves. A bookshelf that is 36 inches (91 cm) long should have shelves at least one inch (2.54 cm) thick. If it's longer, then it should be thicker so that it won't droop under the weight [source: Ellis]. One tip for maximizing space on the shelves is to use adjustable bookshelves, so that very small books don't take up space that can be better used for taller coffee table books. You can also decorate bookshelves with personal items, such as photographs and souvenirs. Not only will this break up the rows of books visually, it will also give you room to expand as your collection grows.


As your bookshelves creep up the wall, you may need a library ladder to reach them. While any step stool or ladder will do, rolling library ladders add an elegant, whimsical touch. The ladders attach to the shelf on a tracking rod, and the bottom of the ladder has wheels, so that you can move effortlessly from one end of the library to the other.

When considering other library furniture, think about how you'll be using the room. If you'll be writing and taking notes on your reading, you may want a desk or a lap desk. Desks and bookstands are also helpful for reading those big volumes that are too heavy to hold up comfortably. Overstuffed couches and chairs will beckon guests to spend a few hours reading, but if you fall asleep as soon as you hit the couch, you may need to consider other options, particularly if you'll be doing scholarly or professional reading.

Wherever you're sitting, it will be hard to enjoy a library if you're suffering from eyestrain, fatigue and headaches, which can all be brought on by poor lighting. When selecting lighting, look for a lamp that will help you see the smallest text you read. The lamp should be positioned over your shoulder, so that the light is not directly in your eyes. Positioning it this way will also help to minimize glare. Your lamp should be brighter than the rest of the room but not that much brighter. However, all light will eventually damage books, so use it at a minimum [source: Ellis].

Did a shudder just run up your spine at the thought of damaged books? Read on to learn about keeping your books safe from their natural predators.