17 November 2012

Personal libraries that make every book lover a little giddy

When I was a kid I used to love watching Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, mainly for the scene set in the library where David Tomlinson sings "Eglantine" to Angela Lansbury. Not only does the library have wall to wall books, but they're also floor to ceiling so they have to use a ladder to reach the top. Not only do they have to use a ladder, but the ladder is on castors. That library has been in the mental blueprint of every house I imagine myself living in, but compared to these amazing personal libraries it seems like nothing more than a book filled shed.

The Walker Library of the History of the Human Imagination

The Walker Library of the History of the Human Imagination
Image source: wired.com
This library forms part of the home of inventor and entrepreneur Jay Walker, and is such an integral part of the house that the library was built first, and the rest of the house followed afterwards. Walker calls it "a library of the human imagination" and it is filled with books and artifacts that span over 5,000 years of human creative and intellectual thought.



Walker designed his library based on the mind-bending labyrinths of M.C. Escher and features weird curiosities. One of the highlights is a map of the Americas from 1500 that was drawn mostly by guesswork sat next to one of the maps that were carried by astronauts to the moon. He also has an original Sputnik I satellite hanging over the ground floor. It's a bibliophile's Mecca.

Skywalker Ranch Library

Skywalker Ranch Library
Image source: filmmakeriq.com
Say what you like about George Lucas (and I know the Internet has no problems in expressing its rage at everything Lucas does), but his library is a thing of beauty. As well as thousands and thousands of books on history, geography and anthropology spanning over two levels, the Skywalker Ranch Library boasts a massive forty-foot glass domed ceiling to bathe it all in soft lighting. The library is said to be a working one i.e. one where the Lucasfilm crew can research ideas, but since the entire of Skywalker Ranch is basically Lucas' summer house, this counts as his personal library.

London Staircase Library

London flat staircase library
Image source: apartmenttherapy.com
This room was designed by Levitate Architects to maximise space in a rented London flat, and their solution was to have a staircase library. Not only are there books in the walls as you go up the stairs, but the books are in the stairs! Each step is secure without the need for books beneath it, so there are no load bearing issues and you don't have to worry about your books getting squashed as you walk up them. As a space saving idea, this is pretty cool. As a "look how awesome my library is" idea, it's friggin' awesome.

What makes your ideal library?

26 comments:

  1. I always wanted the library from the animated film Beauty and the Beast, but I'll take the staircase library. Of course the other libraries here look cool as well. For me a library has to hold tens of thousands of books and have at least two floors. I also require comfortable reading chairs and couches. Plenty of light, too.

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    1. The Beauty and the Beast library was gorgeous, and it almost made the list :) I agree that good lighting can make or break a library :)

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  2. I've always thought of a library from an old English castle, one with window seats. However, as I've converted to eBooks and have fewer physical books, I'd have to plan for other items on the shelves with the books. Maybe a sword collection...

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    1. Not a bad idea, Alex :) A window seat would be a must for me too. Maybe you could have a multimedia centre for your library to accommodate your eBooks :)

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  3. Any of those libraries would do. I've always liked the library from My Fair Lady (the one Mr. Higgins had).

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    1. Agreed; that's an awesome library! I wonder what the connection is between libraries and spiral staircases...

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  4. There's a library/collection in the Louvre which is my perfect library!

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    1. Ahh I never got to see the library in the Louvre, I was too focussed on the Egyptian exhibits :(

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  5. Those libraries are amazing! I particularly like the stairs library, but I think if I could choose a library to have it would be the Bedknobs and Broomsticks one, with the ladder on castors; those kinds of libraries are always impressive!

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    1. If I could, I'd have a rail going around the entire room that allowed me to ride the ladder all the way around :)

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  6. *Swoons from the sheer amount of books* So many books... My ideal library would span more than a single floor. There would definitely be ladders on castors. Spiral staircases would be the main way between floors. Of course, it would be necessary to have some cozy reading rooms spread throughout the place.

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    1. Good thinking. I think I'd have a sound proof room for complete sensory deprivation, allowing me to completely immerse myself into the book.

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  7. I'd like a library like those found in English country houses, Blenheim (which is huge, gallery sized), for example, or maybe the more intimate Ham House. Just to have a room devoted entirely to books would be a dream.

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    1. It's my dream too :) At the moment I've only got a single book case for all my books (it's no where near enough!) Just think of all that bookspace ...

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  8. I can't decide which is my favourite - I'll take 'em all :-)

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  9. This is so swoon worthy! I love what you shared...thank you!

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  10. Wow, the Skywalker Ranch library is amazing!! I'm also partial to the one in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. ;)

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    1. Now that Disney own Lucasfilm, why not combine the two? ;)

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  11. I saw a photo once of Neil Gaiman's library that was, in a word, epic!

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    1. I came across that one too, it's awesome. I'm thinking of doing a showcase on author libraries soon - like a geeky version of Cribs :)

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  12. Too many tables and chairs in that Skywalker Ranch library. You need one oversized couch, two oversized recliners, one decent sized table and comfy padded chair, power outlets, and a fireplace. Oh, and a light on a dimmer switch so you can scale it up or down at leisure. Maybe by remote. A small refrigerator stocked with icy beverages. A 65 inch LED above the fireplace. A whole bookshelf wired for all my game systems. DVD library on the second floor. No windows. No clocks. Wireless Internet. Just for starters.

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    1. You've given this some thought, and I applaud you for it :) I'd disagree on the lack of windows though, I like having natural daylight by a window seat :)

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  13. If I ever built my own house I would start with the same basic concept: design the library/reading area first and build the rest of the house around that. This is amazing. Wow!!!

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