Guys! Having 100 books on your study room shelf does not make it a library. Trust me.
Now, don’t get offended. I know we bookworms share the same dream (a castle packed with books from floor to ceiling), and collecting 100 books is just a start. Definitely.
We will build the castle someday. But until then, can you please stop calling it your PERSONAL LIBRARY? It really gives me OCD.
Of course, I am not saying you need thousands of books to build a library at home. But there are some basic requirements that your tiny book collection must fulfill to qualify itself as a LIBRARY (Consider it as an entrance exam).
Why don’t I enlighten you on those facts and opinions? I can also tell you how many books you need to be considered a library!
First, Why Don’t We Settle on A Definition for Library
ALA (American Library Association) has offered a strict definition of a library. According to this renowned organization, your book collection can only be qualified as a library if:
- A professional is in charge of the book-sorting.
- There are abundant physical or digital intellectual resources available.
- It serves the community and has a mission (providing education, information, or entertainment).
N.B. The original definition is more brutal. Thank me for simplifying it for you.
Do not give me that look. I didn’t make these hard and fast rules or say these are the universal truth.
From a bookworm’s perspective, this definition looks absurd. Who is going to appoint a librarian for a personal library? And who cares about collecting intellectual resources that do not seem interesting? If we stick to this definition, no book enthusiast can ever build a library.
See, ALA has attempted to come up with a professional definition. We are not setting up a library for business or social validation.
Right? So, why bother with what those big guys are saying? Let’s define our own (book enthusiasts are best at making their own rules anyway).
Someone said any book collection, regardless of the size, accessible to the public is a library. It means the owner should be okay if a neighbor borrows a book.
Whoever has come up with this definition needs a major point added. How many of your friends have returned the book you gave them just for a week? The weeks turned into months and even years. In the end, you both forgot about the book.
Can you see the problem now? Book enthusiasts do not always want a library to serve the people. Yes, the neighbors are welcome to read a book, take references, and check out books from the library. But who will keep records of the books going out of the collection and bring those back?
Should we hire a librarian now? I refuse to define libraries on the basis of accessibility. I believe you can never come up with a straightforward definition of a library that will satisfy all worlds. But what the hell! Let me try.
A library is a room or a building packed with books on different genres or a specific subject that serves an interest.
Does it make sense? I will not argue whether the books should be organized in a specific order (I am leaving it to you). Nor will I poke you on what type of books you should collect (Keep whatever suits your taste). But I have only 2 criteria. You must dedicate at least one room and share a professional, social, or personal interest to build a library.
I think the definition is just on point and perfect for bookworms. We do not have to be bothered about the book arrangement or adding unnecessary resources to the collections. Instead, we can now focus on reading and exploring only the books of our interest.
What about The Numbers? How Many Books to Be Considered a Library?
Ah! The number game. Sorry if I have upset you earlier for those 100 books. I was just stating the public opinion.
ALA, the bigshot, suggests that a library must have at least 5000 books. But as I said, IGNORE.
I googled to find what number people have in their minds. The most popular opinions suggest you must own 1000 books to call it a library. When you hit 500, it will definitely give you a feel of a library.
Does this number sound ridiculous? Not to me.
The truth is, when you are aiming to build a personal library, the numbers do not matter that much. You can start packing the shelves with 100 books and increase the number over the years.
If you are an avid reader, finishing 5 to 6 books a month is no big deal, meaning almost 50 to 60 new books to your collection annually. In less than a decade, you will have a room packed with your favorite books, which you can call your home library.
While people eye-roll hearing the 5000 books benchmark from ALA, the bookworms seem satisfied with the 1000 book goal.
Erma Jean Loveland, a special service librarian, refuses to limit libraries with book size. She believed a well-selected collection of 25 books also qualifies as a library.
I respect her, but I prefer to disagree. You cannot define the value of a book by ratings or popularity. So, the “well-selected” criterion is more than a problem.
What’s my take on the number? Well, I will not set a goal of 1000 or 5000 books. In my opinion, the library should have more to offer (the more the merrier).
Ask your friends to visit your private library only when the room is fully packed with books and no corner is left. It will be more satisfying.
Now, having a considerable number of books in your library means they will stink sooner or later. We have recently published an article on how to get rid of this musty smell from your collection of books. Go, give it a read.
Let’s Plan a Home Library Together
Yes, I have the same dream of putting up a home library someday. Right now, my book count is around 500; it already feels like a library. I have started working on my plans even though I know it might take years to reach 1000 books.
Why the early planning? You will understand once you start. There is much to do, and you always want your personal library to be perfect. Here’s my strategy:
I started with Counting My Books
Not everyone has a weird habit of keeping count of his books. Therefore, we better start our journey by checking up on our collections.
Count all the books you own. It can be your academic resources or a piece from your childhood. You can welcome everything in your library.
Some people move to the next step after counting all the books. But I suggest adding one more task to the list. Why don’t you make note of the title and the genre? Trust me. It will help you later.
Choosing A Space Was Not A Tough Call
Let’s admit it. Most of us are not rich enough to turn an entire house into a library. So, we should be happy if we can manage a room or two.
I live alone in my parent’s house. Knocking off walls for the sake of the library is not a big deal for me. But it is unnecessary at this stage (I have only 500 books!).
Yes, the room size does matter if you have more books in your collection. In such cases, choose a space that can accommodate all the resources and decorations.
My collection was still growing, and a medium-sized room was enough for me. Also, I have a soft corner for nature. I love reading pages, sitting beside the window, and sipping coffee. Hence, I selected the corner room facing the greenery.
You must consider the outside view or natural lighting arrangement while finalizing your library room. One of my friends wants his study room with zero windows and no outdoor distractions.
Again, I have met people who installed more windows to let natural light into their library. Just decide which category you belong to and select a room according to your taste.
What’s on Your Mind?
Now that you know where you will build your library, it is time to plan forward. The room I used was a spare guest room (not anymore). It had a bed, sofa, wardrobe, and whatnot. Thus, I had no option but to redecorate the entire room from scratch.
I agree that not all of us have the luxury to dedicate a room solely to books. In such cases, you must utilize the leftover space and make arrangements.
Contact an interior decorator if you suck at it (like me). The expert will squeeze space out of the room without ruining the aesthetic. It will cost you money. But come on! We are planning our dream library.
Painting The Walls
You are lucky if you have an empty room at hand. At least you can now experiment with the colors and decoration of your upcoming library.
As I had an empty room, I grabbed the opportunity to make some significant changes. See, I hate bright colors. There was no way I would let those light green walls stand in my library. So, I had the walls colored midnight green, and it just looked perfect.
I Bought Bookshelves & Furniture
According to my plan, I moved every piece of furniture out of the room except for the chair and table. I was thinking of installing bookshelves on each wall. The round table would be in the middle accompanied by three chairs. Finally, a bean bag beside the window would complete the setup.
No, my bookshelves are not inbuilt. By the way, the in-wall shelves are absolutely fantastic. It would cost me a lot to renovate the room. So, the stand-alone bookshelves were the best idea for me.
I am a fan of corner shelves. So, I installed one. But remember, there are varieties of options available. Experiment with hanging or floating bookshelves. In fact, you can even customize a design for you.
My library has lots of empty spaces in the middle. I am thinking of bringing book storage and a couch next Christmas. There will be more books to keep by then (fingers crossed).
The Vibe of The Library Was Off
So, I had a room, books in hand, and shelves installed. Yet, the library vibe still needs to be there. After brainstorming for hours, I finally found the missing pieces. The lighting was not proper, and the walls looked empty.
I am a fan of warm and white lights. So, I installed them both in every corner of the room. I might go for an upbeat library chandelier soon.
For the walls, I hung up some paintings and quotes. The floating bookcases gave a nice touch, making the room look nerdier.
Do not just limit your library decoration to shelves and storage. Think out of the box. Bring some indoor plants or place a fish tank. Decorate the place as it suits you the best.
Finally, I Organized the Books
For me, sorting the books was the most challenging part. However, the notes from the first step were a great help.
I had organized the books according to their genre. The crime books are packed together, and the horror ones hang out on another shelf.
You can follow any order you want. For example, rearrange the books alphabetically (not a very good idea) or according to the author. In any case, the final call is always yours. After all, it is your personal library.
All I Want to Say Is…
A home library has always been a dream for book enthusiasts. Keep hope if you are just starting. Libraries are nothing but collections of books. Right? It may take years to fill the shelves, but you will get there someday.
Logically speaking, collecting 1000 books is no big deal for avid readers. If you are 23 and have been reading since childhood, you should have at least 300 to 400 (even more) books in your collection. By the age of 27 to 30, you can flex your library.
One more thing. Building a library is not a child’s play. You must plan ahead and put the pieces together. The only advice I can give you is “Put extra effort into organizing the books.” Otherwise, you will be drowning in the sea of books as the collection grows.
In case you need book suggestions, do visit our page. There, you will always find something new to explore! Happy reading!