Monday, February 6, 2012

Create a Home Library

What do Leonardo Davinci, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Abe Lincoln all have in common?
The answer: They all had their own personal home library.

Lets face it, for most people reading is not a priority. Case in point: I attended a meeting several years ago where the keynote speaker, Bryan Dodge, claimed that he could tell where someone's TV was located just by looking at a floor plan of their house. It was pretty easy actually, he just picked the largest room in a central location. Most of our lives center around our TV. Bryan is self-improvement motivational speaker and when people ask him how they can improve themselves, he again refers to the floor plan of their house and asks them where their home library is located. Really? Reading can improve our lives? You bet!

What Bryan said that day stuck with me over the years, and when we moved into our new house, I designated a corner of our unfinished basement as the location of our home library.

Here's some tips so you can build your own home library.

  1) Where to put it.
Most any room will do as long as you have some wall space. I've even seen a home library built into a closet.
BE CAUTIOUS OF PLACES THAT ARE PRONE TO FLOODING OR ARE HEAVY WITH HUMIDITY (You get mold and insects). AND PICK SOMEPLACE WITH AMPLE READING LIGHT, BUT KEEP YOUR BOOKS OUT OF DIRECT SUN LIGHT. (My first library was set up in our dinning room with 4 cheap shelving units placed against the wall where the sun came in and softly illuminated my precious books each afternoon. Big mistake. All of the book spines faded and the paper became brittle.) 

 2) How to organize
It doesn't matter how many books you have, you should organize them.
Most people organize them accordion to SUBJECT MATTER which is the way I do it. I group my books according to religion, business, do it yourself, classics, educational, fiction, etc.... I can always find a book quickly on my shelves when ever I need it. Other ways of organizing is by AUTHOR, or ALPHABETIZING, or even by COLOR (looks really nice, but not very practical). However you do it, ALWAYS PUT YOUR MOST USED BOOKS WITHIN REACH. SELDOM USED BOOKS GO ON TOP AND KID BOOKS GO ON BOTTOM.

 3) Shelving units--build or buy?  
There is no right or wrong way, but here are some things to consider. built-in bookshelves can provide floor-to-ceiling storage and are space savings. They can be tucked under staircases or other out-of-the-way spaces, and if your willing to build them yourself (there are lots of how-to-books out there on the subject) you can save some money. Freestanding bookcases are widely available in a variety of sizes, colors and price ranges, and are good for renters. Look at what it is made out of. I bought some bookshelves made out of pressed wood and the shelves sagged over time.

Either way you go, you should considering adding a desk or some reading chairs to go nearby.

I am extremely happy with the Library I built. Here's a quick run down of how I built mine:
First I selected the location--a large nook that was begging for some special attention. Then I got to work taking measurements and reading up on the different ways to build shelves. I designed my library myself, I'm proud to say. I framed mine up with 2x4's then faced them with pine and added the shelves. Shelves were 11" deep and 3/4 inch thick, but I faced them with a 1"x 2" board to give it a thicker, more finished look. That also extended the width of the shelf to 12 inches. My total cost was $800 and that gave me wall to wall, floor to ceiling, wooden shelves, molded edging, and poll and ladder. I even carved my favorite classic authors into each rung on the ladder. Nice touch I thought. If nothing else, I feel smarter just looking at it.
2x4's with the pine facing on them.

Shelves put in and held in place with tiny "L" brackets.

Completed shelves with ladder.

Fold out desk.


 This is a great site that has step by step instructions on how to build bookshelves:


  1. Wow, Jennifer! This is impressive and motivating. Can I ask how long this project took? It looks fabulous. Job very well done. Enjoy.

  2. I LOVE your library! And that ladder!! Seriously awesome. I've got a bunch of freestanding bookshelves, since my "library" keeps being shifted to different locations in the house. I hope that's finally stopped though.

    I'm so stealing that picture about buying books.

  3. Michele, It took me around 2 weeks to build. I had to figure it all out on paper first, and my husband did help by cutting a lot of the wood and putting in some of the screws, but other than that it was a one-woman-show. Totally doable.

    Donna, I love putting signs like that in my library. I have several about books and reading, including one large sign that says, "Never lend books, for no one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me." So funny . . .and true.

  4. Oh, wow. I love it. The picture and quotes about books being better than treasure is so cool, and the ladder names, and the rock... Yes. Awesomesauce.

  5. I am coveting your library right now.... Love then names on the ladder!

  6. You've got to be kidding me?!?! You built that? That is so incredible (and beautiful)! Nice work, Jennifer!

  7. Outstanding job! Just BEAUTIFUL! : )

  8. I'm so jealous. I just have random bookshelves scattered hither and yon.
    What a great space.

  9. Gorgeous. I've been thinking about it for a while. Might just motivate me to do it :) Thanks!

  10. Amazing! I have always dreamed of having a home library but don't have the space. This is a wonderful use of a small space! Beautiful job!



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