Monday, February 16, 2015

In the Li-Bree

Highclere Castle Library
Highclere Castle Library
Since the introduction of “Downton Abbey”, life in the great houses has fascinated me.  Not the stairs or the gowns and not the life style of the occupants, but it is the signature possessions that indicate “Now, here!  And here!  Well-to-do people live here!”

For me, the greatest indicators are the libraries (li-brees)

Authenticity and status demanded floor to ceiling bookshelves, weighted with huge ancient books.  Faded leather bindings and spines, line up carefully with huge tomes on the top shelf, newer books in descending shelves.

Even in the respectable American homes, loaded bookcases mark the home as being one of means.

So many questions, I have so many:

1.   How is the library used in those houses?
2.   Do the Aged Leather bound books way up on top have a meaning?
3.   Did anyone read those books?
4.   If they did, where would one start?
5.   If the books were read, did anyone read them from start to finish?
6.   Who re-shelved these books?
7.   Would one have a cool library ladder?
8.   Who dusted those books (a female servant?)?
9.   What happened to those books as they deteriorated? And who ever checked to see if the crumbling books should be thrown out?

Did anyone actually know what books they had?
That is all I wanted to know. Well,not all, but I am certain you may have questions of your own. Any answers?


painters in Bardstown KY
I want #78 on the third shelf down.

22 comments:

  1. They all do have such huge libraries. No way one could ever read them all unless that is all they ever did.

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    1. The sheer numbers of books and the investment made for them makes my head hurt.

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  2. Instead of googling they used a ladder. With servants I'm sure they were cleaned often., Our house was always full of books. When a question was asked, we looked it up.

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    1. We are the same. I have a real, honest-to-goodness Webster's Dicitonary sitting on one of my Irish stools by my desk. I enjoy it.

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  3. Some of them are so old, I'd be afraid to touch them. And yes, can you imagine the dusting?

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    1. I don't think the paper quality was always top notch, so I wonder how the books survived.

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  4. Remember Lydgate? He read his uncle's library from top to bottom. I recall more than a few heroes who read they neglectful guardian's library.

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    1. That makes me feel relieved that books in some huge libraries are read.

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  5. Replies
    1. Heck, I would like to just touch them.

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  6. I wonder what system they used to keep them in order. Did they have a standing order with the bookstore to send them every new publication?

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    1. Having a standing order makes sense. We have enforced a rule that if a new book comes to our house, an older book must move on. It hurts, I know.

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  7. A cool library ladder is a must, so the young housemaid can get up to dust the highest shelves while the dissolute younger son of the family wanders about in there trying to see up her skirts and talk her into meeting him behind the dairy later on.
    I would love, LOVE a library! with a ladder of course, a desk, tiffany lamps, leather sofas and armchairs with high enough backs to support the head when I fall asleep reading.

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    1. A ladder and a comfortable wing back chair are musts.

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  8. After reading a good book, I usually give it away so someone else can enjoy it. Number 8 also figures in that decision as I have no downstair maids.

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    1. We live in a single level home, but my husband has books stacked around his share. He refuses to give them away.

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  9. Interesting questions. I love those old home libraries. It would be wonderful to have a house like that, but a staff of care keepers would be an absolute necessity or one wouldn't have time to enjoy much because they always be tending to the care of the house.

    Now my office bookshelves look so sad.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. At least your bookcase holds books you hold dear.

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  10. No, sorry, no answers. Of course, they had generations to amass those collections. Perhaps one of the kids got into them at some point.

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    1. Oh, I hope so!! If all the kids got together and started tossing the books about the library. Awesome.

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  11. I agree they could never know all that's in there, or get to reading them, for sure. But there's something so wonderful about stepping into a room like that... public or private. It just feels comfy/warm/home.

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    1. It feels like one is being welcomed by all those books, welcomed as part of the family, and engulfs warmly. I'd love to visit but wouln't stay.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!