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Daily Object Photo: Children Books in Bookshelf

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Bookcase

A bookcase, or bookshelf, is a piece of furniture, almost always with horizontal shelves, used to store books. A bookcase consists of a unit including two or more shelves which may not all be used to contain books or other printed materials. Shelves may be fixed or adjustable to different positions in the case. In rooms entirely devoted to the storage of books they may be permanently fixed to the walls and/or floor. Bookcases frequently have doors that should be closed to protect the books from air pollution, and bookshelves are open-fronted. These doors are almost always glazed, so as to allow the spines of the books to be read. Especially valuable books may be kept in locked cases with wooden or glazed doors. A bookshelf normally stands on some other piece of furniture such as a desk or chest. Larger books are more likely to be kept in horizontal piles and very large books flat on wide shelves.

In Latin and Greek the idea of bookcase is represented by Bibliotheca and Bibliotheke, derivatives of which mean library in many modern languages.

When books were written by hand and were not produced in great quantities, they were kept in small boxes or chests which owners (usually the wealthy or clergy) carried with them. As manuscript volumes accumulated in religious houses or in homes of the wealthy, they were stored on shelves or in cupboards. These cupboards are the direct predecessors of today's bookcases. Later the doors were discarded, and the evolution of the bookcase proceeded. Even then, however, the volumes were not arranged in the modern fashion. They were either placed in piles upon their sides, or if upright, were ranged with their backs to the wall and their edges outwards. The band of leather, vellum or parchment which closed the book was often used for the inscription of the title, which was thus on the fore-edge instead of on the spine. Titles were also commonly written onto the fore-edge.

It was not until the invention of printing had greatly reduced the cost of books, thus allowing many more people direct access to owning books, that it became the practice to write the title on the spine and shelve books with the spine outwards. Early bookcases were usually of oak, which is still deemed by some to be the most appropriate wood for an elegant library.

(Source: Wikipedia.org)

 

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