Bookcases & Bookshelves

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Of all the furniture pieces in an office, bookshelves might be some of the most useful. A set of shelves adds surface space for storing books, papers, and miscellaneous items that don't fit anywhere else. By stacking shelves in columns, bookcases impose an automatic organizational plan, as high-priority items naturally drift toward the middle shelves and less-often-used materials find a home near the top or bottom levels. Shelf sets can be purely functional or highly decorative, and there's almost no limit to the potential arrangements of shelves and spacers to create unique storage areas.

Large Versus Small Bookshelves
Large shelf sets offer a lot of room for books and files and are ideal for areas that have large quantities of floor and wall space to offer. Floor-to-ceiling cases can inhabit entire walls and provide space for complete library collections. These are popular choices for common areas, such as meeting rooms and conference halls, because they hold reference books, technical manuals, and binders full of company policy materials, which are helpful reads for employee education.

Shorter shelves might only be a few feet tall and offer two or three levels. They may range from 1 or 2 feet in length to several feet. These work well in tight spaces and individual work areas. Their limited space is not an obstacle when only one or two people use them in private offices or shared cubicle spaces.

Bookshelves Vary in Materials and Design
The materials and designs of shelves make a difference in how useful they become in spaces. Standard storage cubes are usually the simplest, typically made from laminated MDF panels. Most ship in pieces for convenient assembly in the office. Etagere shelves are more delicate and usually have an open, flow-through design appropriate for exposed spaces away from the walls.

Divided horizontally as well as vertically, cube cases create a cubby effect. Corner cases have backs cut at right angles to nestle into corners, ideal for cubical-styled offices. Scaffold designs usually feature multiple shelves in a staggered configuration, bound at the sides by tubular metal scaffolding. Any of these may have MDF, wood, glass, or metal in their designs, allowing users to get decorative with them.

What Can You Keep on Bookshelves Aside From Books?
Which designs work in given spaces depend on what the needs are for the shelves. Books and binders do well enough in standard cases, while document boxes belong in cubbies. Delicate items, such as picture frames and keepsakes, complement etagere shelves. Scaffolds work well for books, antiques, merchandise, or -- in the case of wood-and-steel warehouse shelving -- heavy boxes and tools.

How Strong Are Bookshelves?
Shelves can be either very strong or too delicate for heavier items. Wooden and MDF shelves tend to have a higher load tolerance than glass shelves, but even short glass shelves can carry significant weight if properly braced. Some cases have lightweight shelves near the top that only store small or light items, and lower levels that hold much more. Always check the manufacturer's recommendations, which should indicate a maximum weight tolerance.

Do You Have to Assemble Bookshelves?
Some shelf sets arrive in pieces and need assembly before use. Others, especially short, compact units, ship fully assembled. Scaffold shelving often needs assembly, and built-in shelves simply need fixing to the wall with sturdy fasteners.
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