More than a book collection, less than a public library, the personal library has a number of traits that sets it apart.

A personal library is owned by a person. I don't think families can own a personal library -- it must be the primary haven for one person's mind. A family can be home to more than one personal library, but it would be rare.

A personal library is somewhat like a public library, in that it might be organized by the Dewey Decimal System. It might have a catalog, either a card catalog or something automated. And it might make loans, but not to just anyone. Friends, generally, and only friends who know how to treat a book properly.

I've been building my own personal library since I was about 7. I think.

Admittedly, the majority of novels I own are of the speculative fiction genre, but I also own a shelf of plays, a number of books that I couldn't sell back from college, and a rather obnoxious number of comic books.

Personally, I've been inspired by tales of Robin Mckinley's personal library, which apparently numbers over 10,000 books. I'm only at around 900, myself. Not counting the comics. *grin*

I think that the impetus, quite often, to build a personal library is not just bibliophilia, but also a need to have the entire series of books (rather than book 2, 4, 5, and 7 like most libraries seems to do) and the ability to read a book yet again on a whim.

I certainly couldn't imagine life without it, despite the onerous pain in the ass it is to move them.

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