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What I learned while Building a library

Like so many readers, I have dreamt of having my own library in my house. Yep, the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, floor to high ceiling book cases filled with books and rolling ladders. The whole thing. I don't have that. I've never had that and, no, finding my prince charming didn't get me that, either.


The truth is, this whole thing started as a joke. My son brought up how he was planning on moving out soon with his partner and my heart broke. Sure, he was old enough to go and I like his partner. Sure I'm proud of him and want him to go out and chase his dreams but...he's my baby! He's my first born! How will I ever survive without him?! My husband had the answer. He jokingly said that we could turn my son's room into a library when he moved. It was a joke. He said it just to keep the tears away and make me laugh. I heard the word "library" and imagined my hundreds of books all pretty in a shelf with an organized home for each and went, "I sure don't want him to go, but I'll take the library!" I ran with it. My husband hung his head and cried...figuratively, for the bank account. Money was super tight to say the least and I wanted to do it all in one go. Wake up Friday to an empty room, go to bed Sunday with a beautiful library. That's exactly how it went but....


I spent weeks planning and nights dreaming about this perfect library for our family, complete with a big table to do school on and play games together on. When it came time to actually start making it happen, my husband sat me down and reminded me that...well...our budget was pretty much $0.00 but he supported my dream and would happily (ish) help me bring a plan into fruition if it stayed on budget. HA!


But, I did it! I scrounged around our storage and grabbed whatever might work. I pulled furniture from my daughter's rooms and used furniture my son left behind to somehow piece together a library. It's not perfect. It's not even really done, because this is just the first draft and we'll save up to get the matching bookshelves and bookish descore, the ottoman and the table that's not two folding tables pushed together to give the illusion of one (even though they are slightly different heights) and matching chairs for the table. But, for now, we LOVE it. My youngest chooses to do school in the library every school day. I now work in here (the library), instead of the space I use to work at and spend so much time in here that my teen daughter is convinced this is just my bedroom now and I will never leave. But, through it all, I found myself learning (and being reminded) of some much needed lessons.


Before we started turning the space into a library.
  1. Perfection is overrated. If you spend your time just chasing after perfection, you'll always be chasing and never really see what you have in front of you.

  2. It's okay to DIY things and get creative. Sure, things might be a little unconventional but that just gives them more personality and might even make them cooler (I didn't buy a single piece of furniture for the space. Not one.)

  3. It's okay to use what you've got, especially if it's just the first draft.

  4. Have I said get creative? Because the one thing that we spent any money on (less than $100) might be one of my favorite things in my library and makes the space more unique! (We had an odd cut out in the wall that used to be a window when the room we used used to be a garage way before we bought this house. I wanted to close it off in a way that was productive and looked nice. So I (and by I, I mean my husband and dad) put up a peg board to hold my bookmarks on and display them like art). Plus, I don't lose my bookmarks nearly as much anymore, either!

Our peg board for bookmarks

5. It's absolutely possible to be both a bookworm and a book dragon at the same time and that's totally okay. Which leads me to our number....

6. You can NEVER have too many books. I don't care what anyone says! If they make you happy, if they calm you, if they have a positive effect on you, the only issue you may have is a shelf problem, not a book problem!


So many books! And these aren't even all of them! Send help!

7. Work with what you've got, not against it and, no, I don't mean just use what you have around the house. I mean work with your space, even it's quirks. You might just find that you don't hate the quirks as much as you may have thought. (i.e. we have a weird shelf under the windows that we can't seem to get removed, so I did what I could to use the space as best as I could even though I so want the shelf to go away!)

8. If I ever have to alphabetize another thing, it will be too soon....and I was lucky enough to have help who (admittedly) did 95% of the alphabetizing for us.


The books all organized and ready to hit the shelves...and my dog's tail.

9. Trust my instincts. I'm a master at second guessing myself. This time, I held tight to my vision and I fought for it even when others doubted it and, in the end, I loved the outcome.

10. What is meant to be, will be. I am so lucky to have a family and support system who happily help whenever we need it, or when they see we could use it even if it's not super important. Whatever items that came into the library that were not in this house before were gifted to us (my chair, my reading light, ect).These items are among the very things that make my library now feel home and is my favorite place in my house.

11. I had way more duplicates then I thought I had. Now I see the real importance of tracking what books I have and not relying on my memory...

12. You don't need a lot of money (or really any) to make things happen.


So, maybe it's not the fairytale library, but it's mine and I adore it. Sure, I still dream of the day when it will be wall to wall matching book shelves and such but the wait won't kill me. So, next time you're undertaking a huge project (or small. Either way works) take a moment to learn from the experience and carry it with you to the next. And, maybe remember some of these, too, because life's too short to learn all of the lessons ourselves when we can learn from others and save a little time on a few.



My little corner where I now pretty much live. I've since made a few changes. And my cat.

The other reading corner...and look! Some bookmarks are even hanging up!

The "kids" area next to the other chair (and our other cat). There's the shelf we can't seem to get rid of. lol

My wall! MOST of these books are mine. And, of course, the cats have decided this is their favorite room, too. lol


But that's just what I learned from putting together my own library. What lessons have you learned while undertaking similar projects? Let us know in the comments.

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