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Library shelves are used to store books, magazines, and other media. While the concept of library shelves is fairly simple, they come in a variety of designs and materials.

The purpose of library shelves is threefold: to store books in an organized manner, to enable easy access to books, and ensure that books stay in good condition. Beyond that, the types of shelving you choose depends upon the needs of your specific users, as well as the overall design of your library.

Types of Library Shelves

Single-faced library shelves allow books to be accessed from one side, while double- faced shelves allow storage and access on both sides. Single-faced shelves are placed along the wall, while double-faced shelves are typically set up in rows in the center of the room. Most libraries have both types of shelves.

Depending upon the sizes of books and the other type of media you're storing, the depth of shelves can range from six inches to three feet. Height can vary from just a couple of feet to more than six or seven feet, while width can be customized to suit your particular needs. Most libraries require a combination of shelves in different widths, depths, and heights to suit their needs.

Library Shelving Materials

Library shelves come in materials like wood, metal, and laminate. The type of material you choose will depend upon the design of your library, as well as the type of users who will be accessing your shelves. For example, a small private library that caters to adults may have different shelving material needs than a large public library that caters to people of all ages.

Wood is a warmer material and can add beauty to a library, but may require a bit more upkeep than laminate and metal shelves. Metal shelves are ideal in modern libraries, are sturdy and easy to clean, and require very little upkeep. Laminate is ideal for budget-conscious libraries, and comes in a wide variety of colors and designs. Sometimes laminate is combined with metal, to combine sturdiness with a finished appearance.

modern library shelving units
This photo depicts the center aisle of the library, with library shelving on each side. Walk down the aisle and read the letters on each shelving unit, until you come to the one that holds the book you are looking for.
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Library Shelving Units