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On Building a Library

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Livvy, J. 14 yo. Chicago IL USA. //

Every Disney child knows the library from Beauty and the Beast: sweeping spiral staircases surrounded by rose-themed neoclassical shelves, and filled from top to bottom with countless books. As I have grown up reading, I have met many people for whom this library represents a dream goal, as in ‘if I won the lottery’ kind of dream goal. But how much would a library like this really cost?

To begin with, how much would the structure, without books, cost? Because it is impossible to find the exact cost of the building, shelves, and staircases, we won’t be able to find the exact cost, but judging by the height the library is likely the size of a large townhouse, which is around $675,00. Judging from the height of the mezzanines, it seems to be around four stories tall. Also, it has an artisanal ceiling and floor and a somewhat rather elaborate crown molding. In the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, the set for the library was around 2,000 square feet, with marble flooring. That means that the marble alone would cost the hefty sum of $36,000. For the molding, the average cost is around $16 a foot. While the exact dimensions of the library are hard to find, judging by the area, that puts the cost somewhere in the range of $3000. The ceiling would cost around $25 per square foot, bringing its cost to about $50,000. The decorative frieze in the middle would likely equal the cost of a mural, which is around $1,000. Added up, this brings the structural cost to $762,000.

Next is the books. I feel as though it is safe to assume that this library has somewhere in the range of 100,000 books, or at least that someone who was re-creating this library would want 100,000 books in it. For reference, an artist was able to make a life-size version of the Parthenon using 100,000 banned books. Considering that the library is four stories tall, I am fairly certain that they would fit. The average cost of a book is around$16 for a non mass-market paperback, and $26 for a hardback, so if you had half paperbacks and half hardcover that would give you an average cost of about $21, bringing the cost of books to around $2,100,000. Wow.

Now, one surprisingly large cost is the antique globe, at an average of $2,000, and the desk, which is about $3,000. Of course any library needs comfy armchairs and pillows, which will be around $500 for a set. I’d give this library about 15 chairs, which brings that total to $7,500. With that, the cost of accessories is $12,500.

Overall, the total comes to $2,874,500. So, while re-creating the Beauty and the Beast Library isn’t entirely out of the question for a lottery winner, it most certainly will be quite the project.

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