What are Book Shelving Systems?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2019
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Book shelving systems are typically made of wood and designed to house a large collection of books. They may be store-bought or custom-made. The shelves may be part of freestanding bookcase units placed side by side, or they may fasten across a wall by being attached into metal fittings, or tracks. Many book shelving systems are designed to cover entire walls.

Corner units are sold as part of many shelving systems for books. These corner shelving sections allow for book collections to cover more than one wall. Both freestanding and wall-mounted book shelving systems sold in furniture stores may include at least a few adjustable shelves so the height can be varied. While the stationary shelves in most of these systems are designed to hold books of standard height, adjustable shelving can be raised or lowered to fit exceptionally tall or short books.

Book shelves sold in systems come with any necessary hardware. Accessories such as glass doors may be a part of book shelving systems or they may be available separately. In some bookcase systems, open shelving is alternated with sections closed by glass-fronted doors. These glass door types of shelving can help protect books from excess dust. Typically, a clear glass panel is inserted into a wooden door frame that matches the rest of the shelving system and there are two doors per bookcase unit.


Custom-made book shelves often have more unique features such as shelving that fits right up to a doorway, including the top of it. Custom book shelving systems are more likely than store-bought versions to be built in unfinished wood to allow homeowners to have it stained or painted to their taste. Such home shelves may be painted a unique color or they may be stained either dark or light to coordinate with other furniture in the room. Some home book shelving systems that reach from floor to ceiling have a wooden ladder that can be moved to allow access to the higher shelves.

Rather than taking up entire walls and corners, some custom built-in book shelving is smaller in size. For example, a built-in bookcase on each side of a fireplace is a common feature in many homes. While these may be considered as book shelving systems, homeowners often include decorative pieces and plants along with books on these shelves.


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