For those of us who love their books, there is nothing more desirable than your own library, no matter how modest. Not only does a proper library display books to their best advantage, but also it can significantly enhance the home and give it a real touch of class.
Different libraries for different spaces
It is not necessary to have a huge space to have a ‘library’ room, after all the definition of a library is simply a place where a collection of books or periodicals is housed. An empty wall is more than enough space for the beginnings of a library, and if the wall is vaulted or arched, make use of the space all the way up to the ceiling.
If the living room has a fireplace with recesses on each side, flank the fire with built-in shelves. A collection of books will make a high impact statement and can be used as decoration instead of paintings on the wall. If space is limited in the living room, consider fitting rows of shelves over the sofas and other furniture, high enough to stop people hitting their heads on, of course.
Even a hallway could be put to book use. Line one entire side of the hall with a row of freestanding bookcases to add interest to this area of the home and make books easy to grab for a quick read. Do not forget the space under the stairs. It may be poky but it is surprising how many books even this sort of cupboard can hold, and it saves it from becoming a space for junk.
Of course, some people are lucky enough to have a whole room that they can convert to become a library; the type of room that has floor to ceiling, built-in bookshelves along every wall, with comfortable seating and a desk for studying. A library could be ultra-traditional with dark wood furniture and leather bound books on the shelves, or it could be modern, with light woodwork, lots of natural light and deep, comfortable armchairs and leather sofas to sink into.
Bookshelves could serve a dual purpose. Place some freestanding bookshelves coming out from the wall to divide the room up into zones. Use one that has deep shelves and is open-backed, so it can be accessed from both sides and take up to two rows of books like a public library shelving system.
Maintenance for the library
Books may seem quite strong little creatures, but even they can deteriorate if not looked after properly. Dust can cause great damage, called foxing, where the pages discolor over time. If a personal library holds rare and valuable books, foxing can reduce their value quite considerably.
Damp is another enemy, so for valuable books, it makes sense to keep liquids away from them. Keeping books in dust jackets will also help to protect them from damp.
Sunlight has a similar effect as dust, discoloring the pages and turning them yellow or brown, but because this damage happens slowly, it is not always obvious. Although natural light is best for reading, it should be kept out as much as possible when the library is not in use.