How to build a home library | Sunday Observer

How to build a home library

1 May, 2022

The dream of everyone is to build a new house. If you are a book lover, you have another dream which is to build a home library. But how can you design a home library? How do you construct it? Following are top tips to help you build a home library by Sarah S. Davis, a writer and a librarian. She holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

How much can you afford?

Sarah S. Davis

First, you’ll want to get an idea of how much you can afford or want to spend. Building a home library on a budget is definitely doable, but you’ll want to figure out what you want the most. So Sarah S. Davis says first write down a list of your priorities. For instance, do you want or need three new bookcases? Or can you get away with two? Davis says, “I have both bought too many cases at once and bought not enough, leading to some awkward situations with overstuffed or skimpy shelves. Also ask yourself, what can you afford to pay more for: as much shelving as possible, or a nice ‘showcase’ unit to enhance your room’s aesthetic?”

Get thrifty

Davis thinks the best way to build a home library for a low budget is to purchase secondhand book shelves along with brand new shelves:

“Some of my best bookshelves I got secondhand, and it’s a great way to go about building a home library on a budget. When a friend alerts me that there’s a bookcase at the Goodwill near my house, you better believe I dash over there to scoop it up. There are many ways to find free or low-cost secondhand bookcases near you. Try Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Nextdoor, or even a quick “SOS: I Need Shelves!” message on social media. If there are local colleges near you, keep an eye out for curb alerts from students discarding cases they can’t take back with them.”

Alternate shelving ideas

Davis also offers some creative ways to find shelving to store books using unconventional, cheaper storage options. She says multimedia shelves, which are designed to hold DVDs and Blu-rays, can actually pack a lot of mass market paperbacks or shorter books that you don’t know what to do with, so they don’t to take up space on precious bigger cases you need to store big, heavy hardc overs.

She further says, “A Towel Tower from Target is a cheap and easy-to-assemble shelving unit that you can also use for books.”

According to her, those ubiquitous cube storage units can also be pressed into action as bookshelves and are usually priced affordably. Additionally, installing floating shelves or wall shelves is a budget-friendly way to store your books, spruce up your space, and add some volume to your home library.

Functional or fancy?

Next, you should consider what kind of shelving you’re looking for to house your book collection. Are you looking for a few sturdy, gorgeous shelves that are showcased just as much as your books? Or do you just need to store books ASAP and want something affordable and functional? Davis comments, “it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I have many shelves that meet both of those descriptions. Think also about the durability of your shelving, too.”

“These functional bookcases hold a ton of books and also “disappear” so my books are on display.”

Do you just need a fix and need it now so get something quick that will do the job, or can you splurge on a bookcase that’s just as much of a show piece as the books they hold? Davis believes sometimes the best bookshelves are the ones that disappear, showcasing the real star here: your books!

Can you manage on your own?

You should also think about what you can realistically put together and move around on your own. Davis says, “I’ve become a lot handier with putting together bookshelves in a jiffy, but I have limited tools available to me, so anything that requires a screwdriver is beyond me. Look for descriptions that specify how much assembly is required and if tools are provided.”

Thanks to the years of practice Davis got some handy skills and librarian intuition that helped her to break down or put together a bookcase easily.

“Also, I’m not strong enough to carry something very heavy around my house, much less in a car if I were trying to move solo. One workaround here is the blessed invention of foldable bookshelves. These bookcases fold up neatly, making them easy to take apart, carry, transport to a new place in a small car, and put together again in less than two minutes. There are a variety of options here for foldable bookcases.”

How many books you shelve?

You have to decide how many books you are looking to shelve as well.

“If it’s complete chaos and you’re tripping over stacks of books like I am all the time, you’re going to want to buy bookshelves that can hold a lot. As a general rule, paperbacks generally take up less space and weight than hardcovers. Try to get an idea from pictures how many books can fit across the width of a single shelf, then multiply by how many shelves there are to get an idea of how many books a case can hold.”

Davis also recommends reading customer reviews before buying bookshelves, as people are quite generous with sharing the product’s shortcomings or successes. In that way, you can avoid a lot of hassle and stress—and, for example, shelves toppling over on you because they are poorly made!

Where will you put them?

You’ll need to know where to store your bookshelves. It’s a good idea to move things around ahead of time and prepare. Davis shares some insights on this:

“It’s every book lover’s dream to have wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves…. One of the best tactics here is to buy two or more of the same model and line them up next to each other. This uniformity can give you the illusion of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. You can also group your cases by genre, publication date, or any category you wish. It’s your home library, after all!”