How to Make a Personal Library at Home

Creating a personal library gives you a central place to store, organize and display your books.
A personal library is an inviting place to while away an afternoon.A personal library is an inviting place to while away an afternoon.
A home library is a rich resource that encourages learning and provides a dedicated space for reading and relaxation. Whether your available space is under the stairs or a large, dedicated room, you can add bookshelves, lighting and comfortable seating to build a library that invites you to curl up with a good story, research and write a paper, or read aloud to the kids. Start with the books and the basics and add on as your collection grows.

Step 1

Take an inventory of your books. From this you can work out the amount of shelf space you're going to need for your library. Calculate roughly 8 books per linear foot of bookshelf, 5 to 7 thicker reference books per foot, and substantially more books per foot for slim volumes such as poetry collections and picture books.

Step 2

Choose an area of your house to transform into the library. Measure to be sure the space will accommodate your books and take note of opportunities for natural light. Clear out the space and lay a padded rug on the floor to muffle noise, if you will use carpeting.

Step 3

Install drapes, shades or blinds so you can regulate sunlight and block intense glare that will fade the volumes on the shelves and interfere with reading.

Step 4

Locate the wall studs where you will place the bookcases or shelves. Use a stud finder or tap the wall to find the studs. Position the bookshelves against the wall and secure them with braces screwed into the wall studs.

Step 5

Sort your books by the Dewey decimal system, or by fiction and genre, non-fiction and topic, and reader age. You can color code the covers if a rainbow of a library is more important to your sense of order than subject matter. Place books on shelves, spine out.

Step 6

Furnish the library with at least one comfortable chair, a table to rest books on, a reading lamp per chair and ambient lighting. Add a desk, desk chair and task lighting for work, writing and note-taking.

Things You Will Need

  • Carpet and drapes (optional)
  • Bookshelves
  • Stud finder (optional)
  • Braces, screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Books
  • Small table
  • Chairs
  • Lamps
  • Desk (optional)
  • Library ladder (optional)


  • A room with a door lets you use the library in relative peace and blunts the noises from the rest of the house.
  • Build shelves around a window and add a cushioned window seat for more comfortable reading nooks.


  • Tall bookshelves should always be properly secured.
  • A library ladder on a track should lock when weight is placed on it.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.