A Home Library Designed to Hold 6,000 Books
November 20, 2023
A bibliophile gives himself the ultimate gift: a two-story library for his collection—with room to grow.
Text by Gail Ravgiala Photography by Jane Messinger
The project could be considered a literary dream come true. “For years, I had a fantasy of having a library with a catwalk—and that is what I got,” says the proud owner of the handsome book-filled two-story addition to his home in rural Vermont. “It’s a very special place to me.”
While his vision took shape over his forty-year career as an academic, researcher, and author, once he was ready to build, there were many design details to work out. “It was a long process,” says Keith Moskow, partner with Robert Linn at Moskow Linn Architects in Cambridge who spent five years contemplating various options with the client before deciding on a plan.
Initially, they considered a freestanding building or renovating a detached garage. But a separate structure meant access would require stepping outside. Though the commute would be short, the Vermont winters can be long.
The ultimate answer was an addition that has its own exterior entrance but is also readily accessed from the house. Built into a hill, the house appears as a single story from the street. The upper entry level opens to a great room with expansive mountain views. An adjacent kitchen, which Moskow Linn renovated as part of the project, now provides access to the library’s mezzanine. The lower bedroom level connects to the addition via what the owner calls his hallway commute, a corridor lined with closets to stash office supplies and electronics.
The bookshelves are filled with his collection of 5,000 volumes, which had been stored on pallets in the garage. “I’ve been collecting since college,” he says. “I knew how many I had and how much room they would take.” Among them are books from the 1600s, volumes on social and natural sciences, and tomes on history, philosophy, and art, along with some contemporary nonfiction and novels. Moskow Linn was instructed to design for 1,000 more.
The space is flooded with natural light through a double-height grid of six large panes of glass that frame the mountain view. In front of it, a large built-in workspace sits opposite a freestanding cherry desk, which the owner designed thirty years ago, equipped with three computer screens.
The library has become more than a place to work. Furnished with a comfy sofa, it is a favorite spot for the owner and his wife, a writer, to hang out. “It feels like Christmas morning whenever I come in here,” he says.