Charming Furniture

No furniture so charming as books.
~Sydney Smith

To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.

Your library is your portrait.
~Holbrook Jackson

I was in Ephesus, Turkey, recently on business.  For those of you who don’t know, Ephesus was for many years the second largest city in the Roman Empire, ranked only behind the capital, Rome.  By the 1st Century B.C., the city’s population had swelled to over 250,000 people, making it the second largest city in the world at the time.

The present day site conveys the size and extensive cultural development that occurred here during ancient times, although an estimated 85% of the original city still remains unexcavated.  From one end to the other, the ruins encompass an area of over four square kilometers, and include the Temple of Hadrian, the Temple of Artemis, and what is thought to be the largest outdoor theater in the world, in addition to many other smaller wonders (I’ll post a few pictures from my trip in a separate post).

The photo above shows what is left of the facade of the Library of Celsus.  According to Wikipedia, “it was built in honor of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus”, the Roman Consul at the time, and was completed around 135 A.D.  In its day, the library housed over 12,000 scrolls and reportedly also served as monumental tomb for Celsus himself.  Burying a man with his books must have been considered a pretty high honor back then.

Standing in front of this huge edifice was a humbling experience.  I wonder whether the architects and builders who constructed buildings like this ever imagined that human beings would still be viewing them with amazement nearly 2,000 years later.

2,000 years from now, will people be touring the ruins of the New York Public Library in a similar manner?  Looking at this picture makes me feel like I could walk through the library doors and go missing for a month.

But I got to thinking about what kind of library I’d build for myself.  I have a collection of books now, stuffed in several book cases, thumbed often, reorganized occasionally, but I can’t with a straight face tell you it’s really a library.  With all the globetrotting and living on Navy ships and in far away locales, I’ve never really put together a reading/writing space that fits the library definition.  Nonetheless, I’ve always felt there’s a proper library somewhere out there in my dreamy future.  Do you feel that way too?

Curious what others have done in this regard, I found this revealing article with pictures of a number of celebrity libraries (incidentally, that’s Jimmy Stewart’s library, not Rod Stewart’s).

Finally, after a lot of soul-searching, which these days is called internet surfing, I found my dream library:

photo by Andrew Moore

(Read more about this amazing library here.)  What about you?  If time and money were no object, what kind of library would you build for yourself?