Friday, April 20, 2007

Home Library/Libraries

As a kid, I owned few books.
Much of my spare time was spent at the local library, where I could happily while away the hours surrounded by endless shelves of books of every kind on any subject.

At age 19, I moved into a tiny (roach-infested) apartment in San Francisco, and one of the first things set up was a little shelf for books. Back then we had no Ikea, so bookshelves for young folks who were just starting out typically took shape from brick n' board...
[Segue: ...or discarded wooden crates from stores. I dragged home a couple of big ones from Chinatown once - what a mistake! After setting up books and records within the large openings, I noted the wood smelled faintly of stale urine....! You better know those stinky crates went bye-bye post haste back into the street].

Return from segue:
My brick n' board shelf was assembled from an eight inch wide, eight foot long piece of wood that was a sign+ four cinder blocks. The sign was a 'found object'. When acquired, it was painted white with the words ROAD CLOSED stenciled in black spray paint. Pretty cool. ROAD CLOSED stood upright as wall art for the longest time before getting sawed in half to become a shelf. I can't even remember where it's from, though I suspect some folks who closed a road back in 1971 found their signage went missing one day...

Aforementioned sign became my first bookshelf.
Easily dismantled, that thing moved from apartment to apartment until it was finally replaced when HD and I finally got into serious real estate (co-op housing). A big new, handmade shelf was constructed for the living room, made of fir, and stained in an 'oak' color. The design was from an old Sunset how-to book (the best!) on building simple bookshelves.

That shelf was meant to last until we could someday afford a fancy, sturdy, wall-to-wall storebought shelving unit.
Thirty years later, and repainted in an off-white color, the Sunset bookshelf is still standing (with a few bowed shelves) and continues to house our official home library.
You can't see from this pic, but there are stacks of paperbacks on some of the lowest shelves.

In addition to ye olde bookshelf, two smaller shelves have been purchased in recent years to hold cookbooks (in the kitchen)
and art books (in the art/craft room)

And the library keeps growing.
New books are continuously welcomed into life/library. Monthly, weekly (OK, sometimes several times a week) acquisitions. has a record this long of my book purchases over the last years.

Quantity, if not quality, of books does get outta control around here, signaling that a purge is due. Time to move old books on to make room for new ones.
I am usually loathe to perform the task and must steel myself in seeking out the titles that we've either 'outgrown' or 'no longer-never did-never will interest the readers in this home'.

Some reject books were received as gifts (by people who didn't have a clue), purchased on a whim or acquired in some other fashion (think long term book loans - these would finally go back to their original owners).
Of course, books are saved from the Goodwill box if there is an iota of sentimental value attached...

Even with the periodic purges, my library never really gets smaller.
There's temporary storage of books in the garage - those that will eventually be cycled back into the house. Not unlike a museum rotating its vast collection of art works (this museum houses approx. 700,000 pieces of art, with only about 15,000 on current display).
Well, kinda sorta.

'Too many books, too little time'?
An adage that rings deafeningly loud and with absolute truth in this home of multiple libraries.
Are you too a collector of books ..... lover of reading ..... closet librarian, perhaps?

P.S. I still fancy moving into a bigger house* someday ~ for several reasons.
From reading these posts, you can probably guess what those are.

* dreaming via the pipe - if anything, our living space will downsize further as the years progress...


jessamynit said...

jeez, them's a lotta books!
I was just thinking about how we need to pare down ours, and get a bigger bookcase... you, however, have dwarfed my collection!

baffle said...

Paring down makes for a sensible home decor mode but books should really be exempt from the 'get rid of' rule, don't ya think?

Look who's talkin': she-who-has-little-storage-space.