Introduction to Bookcases
Bookcases are not only useful for storing books, but also for setting the tone of a room. Most bookcases are made of wood, although metal bookcases are quickly becoming popular. Cherry, maple, oak, and pine are common woods for bookcases, although they may also be made out of less expensive pressed wood or fiberboard and painted to match the decor of the house. Height and number of shelves also vary widely, depending on where the bookshelf is to be located and what it will be used for.
Freestanding bookcases are easier to move around than built-in bookcases. They can be put in any room that has space and even set up back to back or used as a partial divider in a room. Some freestanding bookcases are assembled after purchase, usually with nails and a cardboard or fiberboard backing. Others are fold-out bookcases which can be folded for storage and unfolded for use. High quality freestanding bookcases generally come assembled and do not fold, but must be transported as one solid piece. Freestanding bookcases should be attached to wall studs or another immovable object for stability.
Built-in bookcases are custom built to fit a certain space in a room, often a study or office. They are made to the specific measurements of the space and although they can be removed, do not usually work as well in another space. This type of bookcase can be much more expensive, due to the custom work involved and the fact that construction is often from higher quality wood.
Revolving or carousel bookcases, either turn as an entire unit or have stacked units which revolve separately. Some revolving bookcases, especially in libraries, are topped with a revolving dictionary stand. Revolving units should not tip over, even when unevenly loaded.
A corner bookcase saves space and provides an attractive surface for other objects besides books, such as clocks or knickknacks. They are often triangular on top, with rounded shelves, but can also be shaped like two rectangular bookcases coming together at a corner. A corner bookcase can be especially valuable for areas which are short on space.
A headboard bookcase combines two popular items of furniture, the headboard of a bed, and a bookcase. The headboard has one or more shelves built into it to provide storage, as well as easy access to a book when the reader is in bed. This type of headboard has recently been gaining in popularity.
Many college students, as well as others who are looking for a quick way to get books off of the ground, use boards held up by cinder blocks or milk crates as a temporary bookcase. Although this serves the purpose of holding books in an inexpensive and resourceful way, it is not very stable and generally doesn't improve the look of a room.
When looking for a quality bookcase, find one that is already assembled, and made of oak, cherry, or maple wood. Good bookcases that will last are usually held together by screws and not nails or staples. Another mark of quality is when the shelves fit into grooves along the sides of the bookcases.
Written by Bronwyn Harris