Guest post: Beautiful libraries

Just a reminder to everyone that I’m on vacation this week. Hope you enjoy the guest posts!

Next, please welcome Beth @, a site of beautiful libraries, indeed. Beth shares her personal inspiration behind the site, and a love of libraries that, as she so rightly points out, connects us the world over. 

Here’s the story… of a lovely library site…

by Beth @

I have always loved libraries – as a kid, my favorite place was my elementary school library filled with books and beanbag chairs; my parents, university academics both, always had a large collection of books. One of my earliest recollections is waiting for the Bookmobile to park and climbing aboard to choose among the children’s offerings.

Hearst Castle Library, Beverly Hills, CA
Hearst Castle Library, Beverly Hills, CA

As an adult, I assumed I would always be surrounded by books and dreamed of the cozy home library I would someday have. The first thing I did when my new husband and I bought our first house in 1998 was to design and build a wall of four-foot-high shelves in an upstairs room to create an office/library. Those shelves filled up fairly quickly.

The MA library from This Old House Magazine that started my "collection"
The MA library from This Old House Magazine that started my “collection”

The following year, I ran across an article that left a deep impression on me: In the July 1999 issue of This Old House Magazine were photos of a truly magnificent home library addition to an older house in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Since I was reading a public library copy, I returned the magazine, but over the years my thoughts returned often to the magnificence of that home library. About five years ago, I searched online for that back issue, which became the start of a binder I kept of beautiful home library photos, which I added to as I found other impressive library portrayals in Architectural Digest and other magazines, as well as online photos.

Two years ago, my husband, two children and I, well-settled into our third and (we hope) permanent house, and running out of space for free-standing bookcases to hold the 5,000-or-so books I had managed to amass, decided that we might like to build our own library addition.

Alnwick Castle, England (I have an extensive collection of English Country House Library photos)
Alnwick Castle, England (I have an extensive collection of English Country House Library photos)

I immediately began looking through my binder and looking online for inspiring photos of well-designed home libraries, and found, to my surprise, that although several sites had lists of ten or so library photos, no one had yet compiled an extensive collection online.

Thus began, a site dedicated to inspirational photos and information about libraries of all kinds: private, public, academic, commercial and many other types – including Libraries in Art and Libraries in Film, naturally!

I have now added over 600 photos and still continue to add more, whenever I have a moment (and we’ve finished our own library addition too, BTW). I try to accompany each photo with information about that library, and personal observations and commentary about its design. And I have received photos of libraries from visitors around the globe, from Europe to Africa to Asia. The love of beautiful libraries is universal.

Château de Groussay in France
Château de Groussay in France

Many thanks to Jennifer, for her permanent link to my site as well as for giving me this chance to do a guest blog here at I hope you find a moment to visit and enjoy


Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

5 thoughts on “Guest post: Beautiful libraries”

  1. What a beautiful website! The first thing I do when I move is figure out where our library of books will go too, then we can figure out where less consequential things like beds and tables can go 🙂

  2. Dear Beth,

    I don’t know whether to kiss you or kick you — I have just hyper-focused away an ENTIRE Saturday night studying image after image as I clicked on every single page and read every single word (following every single link) of your fascinating and beautiful site. I can only imagine the time you spent putting it together. Kudos (But it is seriously DAY now! Will I hate you come afternoon?)

    I have pinned quite a few of your images along with your words and source credits, and added a pin of your email address to my “Library Lust” board, letting folks know where they can find still more beautiful libraries. (Your own is lovely, by the way. I loved the construction photos.)

    If you intend to continue to compile, I would like to suggest a new category: apartment libraries. Many of us who are not among the 1% and who are living in cities must rent, and few of us have the space we would like to house all of our books in a single room. I am fortunate enough to be able to afford enough space for a library/office, library/bedroom, hallway library, kitchen pantry bookshelves AND books in my living room. However, it would be wonderful to see how other people have managed to live in rented spaces with more books than furniture to put them in. And I can’t think of a better curator.

    It’s ironic that the internet is such a wonderful resource, but clicking around on a screen is so much less satisfying to those of us who are in love with books than sitting in a comfy chair turning pages — especially when reading about rooms in which to house our bookish treasures.

    If your site were a coffee table book it would probably cost a fortune – but I would be first in line to buy it (even if I had to eat peanut butter for a month to work it into my budget).

    Thank you SO much!

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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