The Private Librarian for Home

 
 

A new home with too many empty shelves.


A lifestyle change that necessitates a library up-sized or down-sized.


Too many books, and not the right ones.


Books that could use some care and preservation.


We take our clients’ love of books to the next level in the home.

 
Photography section, home library in TriBeCa, New York City. Curated and designed by librarians at Foxtail Books.

Photography section, home library in TriBeCa, New York City. Curated and designed by librarians at Foxtail Books.


In process: The beginning stages of sorting and rearrangement, collection of 2,000 books - Pasadena home library.

In process: The beginning stages of sorting and rearrangement, collection of 2,000 books - Pasadena home library.

Clients hire a private librarian to solve a problem. A wonderful problem to have, really: Too many books. Maybe too many shelves to fill. Maybe several homes with different collections between them. A desire to add, or enhance, but not knowing where to start with all of the options in the book world, between new, out-of-print, and rare markets.

The home full of books is a place of beauty, stories, and knowledge. They are some of the most personal objects we own. Much as we all love having them in our lives, though, books — particularly books collected en masse — can be challenging, even problematic. Enter the private librarian for home.

Much as we all love having them in our lives, though, books — particularly books collected en masse — can be challenging, even problematic. Enter the private librarian for home.

Imagine a glorious, gigantic home library, perhaps from the pages of a magazine or pictures of a European palace. Consider how many books it takes to fill so large a space wall-to-wall with books. Perhaps so high up that wall that ladders are necessary for access. Such a room might have come together through years, decades, even centuries of collecting. Just as often, that collection was moved there from another location. It may have been created all at once, by a professional. It’s possible it needs to grow, needs to be updated, or could use some organization in order to truly be enjoyed. These are a few of the problems that a private librarian can solve. It is our job to ensure that every single book on the shelf is just the right book, placed in just the right spot. The job is a painstaking one, creating highly personal collections with intention and excellence.

Our primary work is in building collections: assembling the perfect 50, 200, 3,000 books to reflect one topic in depth or (more often) a range of subjects chosen by an individual or family. We curate collections based on interests, on geography, on subjects readers might want to read more about (or might want their children surrounded by). In addition to the books, we identify bookends and shelf objects that work with the books and the design of the home.

Much of the time, we are brought into a home library to help organize a long-held collection, to make it more enjoyable and accessible. Personal bookshelves of any size fall into disarray over the years, which can add up to a lot of detail-oriented work in any residential library. Our staff have the experience to efficiently convert a chaotic room full of books into beautifully organized shelves, a place where you can find an old favorite, a necessary reference, or simply a new read for vacation.


This spring we worked on two large home library projects: one in Los Angeles and another in New York City. The architecture, design, and needs of each project were entirely different. They were only similar in that each client expressed a passion for books in the home — and each has a discerning eye for design. The content of the books was important to them, but so was the appearance of the books on the shelf.

Curated Modern Art and Design Library with art objects selected by Foxtail Books. Home library in TriBeCa, New York City.

Curated Modern Art and Design Library with art objects selected by Foxtail Books. Home library in TriBeCa, New York City.

Different coasts, different architecture, different books. The two projects were only similar in that each client expressed a passion for books in the home, and each has a discerning eye for design.

For a beautifully remodeled loft in TriBeCa, we were asked to create a library of books and objects to reflect both the Art-Deco/Modern interiors and the modern art in the client's collection.  Every book was chosen to reflect the history of art and design. Bookends and objects, many in brass and grayscale, in a variety of textures, were selected to be somewhat neutral, since art books bring so much poppy color to a room.  Many of the art pieces were sourced from European artisans, others are original pieces by key early-twentieth-century designers.

The unusual shelving and the client's request for a majority of oversize, image-based art books, required creative estimates determining (from afar) the number of books that were right for the project. Books were sourced from the best in publishing, as well as rare and used booksellers around the world (many of the titles that were right for the collection being no longer in print). Once the collection and objects were selected and shipped, our team traveled to New York to install the library, from unpacking to organization and arrangement. 

As often as we create new collections and fill empty shelves, we also help maintain those that have been around a while but need some organizing, culling, cataloging, arranging. The high-walled library of 2,000 books in a Los Angeles-area 1920s Spanish Colonial had little order when we started: Literature, sports books, history, children's books, art, etc., were all mixed together on the shelves and on the floor. A beautiful mess. The previous residents' books, many decades old, still lived on some of the high shelves.

We began by sorting everything into subject categories that make sense for this particular client. We all think of our books differently, group them uniquely; Our years of experience with books (and readers) allows us to easily identify categories into which a household's books fall, and also to determine how they will best fit into the shelves at hand. After some culling and distributing some of the books throughout the property, we determined how those categories would fit best into the different sections of shelving in the space. Where there had been dozens of teetering piles on the floor, we left a few pretty ones, intentionally placed. After our week in the library, the family can find, access, and better enjoy the fantastic collection they have built through the years. Our next step in this process is to catalog the collection, so the family has a detailed. searchable database of the books they own.

Organization in process: the fiction & literature section being alphabetized. Los Angeles-area residential library.

Organization in process: the fiction & literature section being alphabetized. Los Angeles-area residential library.

 

Our staff have the experience to efficiently convert a chaotic room full of books into beautifully organized shelves, a place where you can find an old favorite, a necessary reference, or simply a new read for vacation.

 

The same Master’s Degree that university libraries and museum archives require of professional librarians allows our library staff to solve problems for luxury homeowners with excellence. Why hire a private librarian for your residential library? Bringing our professional standards, knowledge of the book world, and expertise in project management into your project will bring any collection to the next level. Our services allow readers to enjoy, showcase, immerse themselves in a home full of books like never before.


Tell us about your home library project