At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Libraries

Stuart James (University Librarian, University of Paisley, and Editor, Library Review and Reference Reviews)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




James, S. (2000), "At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Libraries", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 1, pp. 40-48.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

We all have the same problem, especially those of us living in typical modern small houses: we cannot resist buying books (otherwise why did we become librarians in the first place?) or collecting them systematically, but how and where to keep them? We all know how quickly the shelves (and floors, for that matter) fill up. “Books do furnish a room” and can with just a little imagination become an integral feature of interior design. The good housing of private libraries can combine the utilitarian aspects of storing and displaying books, with their appearance as a part of the room or rooms they adorn.

There are plenty of examples here for ideas: more than 40 examples are described and illustrated, with linking sections on aspects of book collecting and private libraries. The book is arranged in six main sections, or categories of private libraries: “The grand passion”, “Beautiful bookscapes”, “Designer stacks”, “Wall‐to‐wall books”, “Literary lairs”, and “Private pleasures”. The compilers have certainly cast their net wide and have produced examples from a few likely and many less likely sources: the Duke of Devonshire, Paul Getty, Sir Fitzroy Maclean and Keith Richards (of Rolling Stones fame) to the Reading Society Library in Corfu; and many more besides, most from the USA, including interior designers and one or two whose concern seems as much for appearance as content. On occasions it all gets just a little precious; but only sometimes: for the most part, any book lover will relish both the accounts and especially the sumptuous illustrations. It is all rounded off by a US‐based directory of private library resources and completed by a brief general index.

If the emphasis is on the visual and the images, there are still plenty of ideas and examples for storing our libraries in all sorts of spaces and circumstances. As befits its subject, the book itself is a visual treat: the large format allows generous amounts and quality of illustrations throughout. So this is a book to attract and fascinate any book lover, whether for ideas or envy.

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