Brenda and I were both raised in homes that valued reading. Trips to the local library were a weekly activity. And consequently, a quiet place to sit and devour a book became a priority for us. More than that, it became a place to display and store our collection.
Our current home never reached that level of beauty. We expected to live here two or three years, and then it was likely the company for which we both worked would move us on.
So, the library was put into a room with enough wall space to line up a string of store-bought shelf units.
This month we passed our 22nd year at the same address. Somehow in all that time we never got around to changing the library into the welcoming space we want it to be.
But as we look forward to our intended downsizing now that the kids are grown and we're retired, we're determined to remedy that. In older posts you will see I am fond of looking at house plans and imagining living in those spaces. Now, few designers of residences insert a designated, planned library into their designs. Most families seem to have other priorities if there's a spare room - a media room, a home office, a guest bedroom - and so the nod to the book-readers is comprised of a few shelves in the family room.
If you're going to have a library - no, a Library - you're probably going to have to give up some other function. Like many other American families in this informal age, while we have a dining room, we seldom use it, preferring our eat-in kitchen for all but the most formal gatherings.
So when I look at a house plan, I mentally strike through "Dining Room" and replace it with "LIBRARY." Fortunately, designers usually give useful lengths of blank wall and by closing off the usual portal to the foyer more can be created. Dining rooms also often are graced with some of the prettiest windows in a house. So with some nice cabinetry, good lighting and comfortable chairs, we can create a small but inviting space for the display and consumption of books.
And when we visit new homes, we're always looking for signs that books will be welcome. Sometimes that's easy. But often it's a real act of imagination.
Well, the purveyors are having to adjust to a brave new electronic world. And so must we. Still, it's against a lifetime of habit and training to embrace the library of the digital age.