top of page

How Many Books are Needed to be Considered a Library?

If you want to call your 10 book collection a library, go right ahead. I won't stop you and I got your back. You do you, Boo. But if you're looking for something a little more official to back up your bold library status claim- then read on.

Officially, a library is a building or room containing collections of books (and other stuff). So, by that standard, you need at least 2 books to make a collection and a minimum of 2 collections (because the definition does not state a collection of a book- books & collections are both plural!). So, drumroll please- the answer you've been waiting for- the minimum number of books you need to call your little shelf a library is 4! But you're probably going to cause some tea to be spilled at the next gathering of your friends if you call your puny shelf of books a library during the home tour. "Can you believe she called 4 books a library- what a pretentious-" You get the idea.

And frankly, what self-respecting bibliophile would only have 4 books in her house (unless she's some kind of crazy minimalist who keeps all her books on a Kindle). So, let's do some digging and come up with a more reasonable number than 4.

Did you know:

  • The world's largest library is the Library of Congress founded in 1800 and has 164 million items. (I don't think we got room for this.)

  • The average number of books in a US household is 114 according to “Scholarly Culture: how Books in Adolescence Enhance Adult Literacy. (Getting warmer...)

  • The smallest public library (by area) is The Library in Cardigan operated by John A. MacDonald. It sits in a building that measures 3.5 X 3.5 meters and holds about 1,800 books. (I think I can carve out a space this size in my home- HBU?)

  • It is recommended that school libraries house 15-20 books per child. (And bingo!)

If we go by this last stat- I think we have a great place to start. If you have 3 kids, you should house a minimum of 80 books (there's 20 in there for you). As a surprise bonus, this variety will save your sanity. Trust me, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie isn't cute anymore after the 20th reading. Plus, these 80 books are only the beginning. Collecting books will become your next obsession. (I speak from experience.) Take a look at my bookshelf pictured to the left. It houses right at 80 books. I think I could get away with calling it a library without too many eye rolls from my friends.

But truthfully, I don't call it my library, I call it my happy place. To be surrounded by books is a bliss that should be experienced in every home. The beauty (and fun) of a home library is that it is never finished, it is highly personal, and it never goes out of style. It is the true heart of the home. Now, go get started building that library! Happy Reading!

Oh, and take a picture of your home library and tag me on Bookstagram (Instagram) @staceywritesandreads. I love looking at everyone's beautiful reading spaces.

p.s. The inspo for this blog came when I ran across book blogger Andrew B discussing The Private Library: The History of the Architecture and Furnishings of the Domestic Bookroom by Reid Byers. In an interivew with the New York Times titled, "How Many Books Does It Take to Make a Place Feel Like Home?" Mr. Byers weighed in at 1,000 books to feel book-wrapt (my new favorite word). I couldn't agree more- I've got to buy more books! This book is on my TBR and I know I'm going to cherish having it on my shelves, but it's pricey at $85! I don't know if I'll be able to hold out until Christmas- the struggle is real. If you've read it- please let me know in the comments if I should indulge (I need excuses people!). It has two 5/5 ratings on Goodreads.


bottom of page