BBM Team

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Set Up A Home Library

For book lovers and reading enthusiasts, no space is more welcoming than one that showcases their collection. Once seen only in luxurious homes, home libraries are becoming extremely popular in modern homes.

One doesn’t need a large bungalow or a dedicated room to create a library – a small designated area, a niche or an alcove can be converted into a comfortable reading nook. Be it traditional or modern, a home library needs to be comfortable and functional. While dark colours and woods were preferred in earlier days, modern libraries are light airy spaces that appeal to grown-ups and children alike.


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Make your choice. Depending on your home and how much space you have, choose a room or an area (if nothing else, the niche under the staircase works too). The number of books you have and storage needs will determine the kind of space you need. While only one wall could function as your home library, dedicating an entire room creates a wonderful space where the family can sit back, relax, read and share their knowledge over the years. Ensure that the room is large enough and allows your collection to grow. Your library could also double up as a home office – all it needs is some essential equipment such as a desk, computer, printer and phone. Or else, make it do double duty as the lounge or guest room (with a pullout bed). Accessorise with rugs, lamps, artworks or even a small TV.


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Furnish the space. What’s a library without a series of shelves chock-full of books? Freestanding bookcases are available in a variety of sizes, patterns and prices. If you want to invest in your library, recessed or built-in bookcases offer immense storage possibilities. Hanging shelves on walls and book cases built under staircases are also options. If short of space, don’t hesitate to run up your shelves to the ceiling. You can also choose to install glass-fronted cabinets, which keep your books cleaner and dryer. Also handy are a sliding library ladder to reach top shelves, a bible stand to check out heavy books, a desk, and comfortable chairs that invite one to sit back and read.


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Smart shelving. Since shelves are the backbone that keep your books up, ensure that they’re hung with proper anchors, supports and brackets. It is best to hire a professional carpenter to figure out weight and point loads. Choose from wood, blockboard, plywood, metal or glass. The deciding factor is the weight limit, but wood and glass work best. Often, shelves tend to sag under the weight of books. A rule of thumb: A shelf that is about 36 inches long should be at least one-inch thick. If it’s longer, go for a thicker shelf. Overhangs at each end beyond brackets should not be more than 20 per cent of the distance between the support brackets. Shelves meant to store paperbacks, CDs and DVDs should be about 15cm wide; make them 20cm for larger books. Leave about 23-25cm between each shelf – this gives you a space of 3cm to 5cm above books and allows you to easily pull them out. Adjustable shelves allow maximisation of space. Double the capacity of your shelves by fitting two rows of books on each shelf. Break up rows of books visually with personal items such as photos and souvenirs.


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Organise well. While Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification System for libraries (which includes 10 broad categories for organising books), may be over the top for a home library, a sorted system helps you find the book you want ASAP. You could sort books by subject matter (romance, classics, history, children’s, biographies, technology etc.), a system that makes retrieval easier. If you have a huge fiction collection, try alphabetising by author or by genre (crime, romance, humour). How about arranging books in the order you bought them? A little off, but it showcases how your reading tastes have changed in years. If nothing seems to work, sort by colour, arranging books to create a visually appealing display.


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Light it right. Important in all rooms, lighting is crucial in a library. Natural light may be ample during the day, but by night you may need overhead and accent lights, and table lamps. Poor lighting while reading can lead to eye strain, headaches and fatigue. Position your reading lamp over the shoulder, so that the light does not hit the eyes. This also helps minimise glare. Soft, ambient lighting can alter the mood of your home library and creates a space where you can either snuggle up with a book or play board games on rainy nights. Remember that strong natural light can lead to bleaching, fading and deterioration of books. If your books are stacked near windows, tack up thick paper on the panes and draw the blinds to keep intense light out.


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Keep them safe. Your books may be tucked away smartly in shelves, but are they safe? Some insects can damage your lifelong collection in a matter of weeks. Silverfish eat away at glue and paper, cockroaches devour paper, bookworms can tunnel through a book and lay eggs in it, while book lice thrive on book paste, glue and fungus. Rodents, including mice and rats, can also attack your books. All of these thrive in dark dusty corners, so ensure that the space is kept spotlessly clean. In case of an infestation, isolate affected books. Control moisture and dust in the library to keep insects at bay and discourage the growth of fungus, mould and mildew.

Sit back and enjoy. Curl up with a book and a cup of coffee on a La-Z-Boy or surf the news on your laptop – your home library provides you with the perfect setting to ****** some me-time each day!

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Feature courtesy: OLM