What is a Bookcase?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 May 2020
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A bookcase is a shelving unit designed to hold books. There are many different sizes, heights, widths and types of bookcases available. Bookcases are versatile pieces of furniture, as they can be used to store and display many kinds of objects in virtually any room. A home bookcase may be freestanding or built in.

Built-in bookcases are usually featured in living rooms, such as on either side of a fireplace. The lower shelving may be closed with cupboard doors, while the upper shelves are often open. Homeowners can choose what to put on the shelves. Some people like to fill all of the open shelving with books, while others prefer a mixture of decorative accent pieces and plants.

Freestanding bookcases made of lower-cost pine or synthetic materials may be purchased inexpensively. These provide low-cost, convenient storage furniture in children's rooms, hallways and other areas in the home. Bookcases made of fine hardwoods are more expensive, but are also long-lasting and resistant to denting, unlike pine. Popular uses of shorter bookcases are in an entry hall, such as to hold bins of mittens or shoes on the shelves and a bowl for house keys on the top. A tall narrow bookcase can turn otherwise wasted wall space into storage options.

For large collections of books, a series of tall bookcases can be placed side-to-side along the walls of a room to form a home library. Sitting or reclining furniture can be added to the center of the library. To store valuable old books, tall bookcases with glass door fronts may be used.

Office bookcases are often used for equipment user manuals as well as to store supplies such as boxes of paper. Barrister's bookcases are a classic type that feature a top-opening, horizontal glass door on each shelf. Modern updates of the barrister look include sliding glass panels.

Folding bookcases provide space-saving options that are easy to transport since they typically fold flat. Open framework in light or dark wood with three or four shelves is the basic style of a folding bookcase. Some are made especially for corners, while others are made to be used anywhere. Because they're portable and usually quite attractive in design, folding bookcases make ideal furniture for a first apartment or to hold books in a college dorm room. In addition to the regular rectangular type of folding bookshelf units, there are also A-frame styles with smaller shelves at the top and larger ones at the bottom.


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