Rolling Library Ladders: New Trend, Old Charm

Rolling library ladders made a comeback in the last decade, and they are a growing design trend for homes and businesses. Also called sliding ladders, rolling ladders remain an ingenious and charming addition to any space with high shelves or hard-to-reach storage bins. A rolling ladder from Custom Service Hardware brings a functional ornamentation to your workshop, library, wine cellar, storage shelves, and loft spaces. But what is the story behind the rolling ladder and why do we still call them library ladders? Here, we look at a brief history of the rolling library ladder and why this classic yet charming design has endured for hundreds of years.

Historic Wooden Rolling Ladders of the Past

The library ladder came into existence in the Victorian era, around the mid 1800s, thanks to Frenchman Etienne Avril, who invented the first one to reach the upper shelves of bookcases. Known initially as a bookcase ladder, this nifty invention was used exclusively in libraries, only later evolving into the kinds of iconic rolling wooden ladders used in fine clothing stores, mercantiles, and dry goods stores. The wooden Putnam ladder, which we sell at Custom Service Hardware, is the classic American rolling library ladder design, unchanged since 1905. 

Antique European library ladders were shorter than most you see today. They ranged from 5 feet to 8 feet, often times smaller and appearing more like a step ladder. These Victorian rolling ladders had intricate hand carvings on the railings and larger surface area at the base for support. Compared to the streamlined rolling library ladders of today, the original designs look bulky and hard to maneuver. However, the style reflects the craftsmanship and aesthetics of the Victorian era, which were quite ornate.

Present Day Sliding Library Ladders for the Home

During the 20th century, rolling “library” ladders evolved to general purpose use rather than specifically as a library tool for reaching books. Today, a rolling library ladder refers to any ladder with wheels that slides along a railing. They may be implemented in any room of your home or as a stylish décor accent.  Whether you have high kitchen shelving or high ceilings, a rolling ladder can help you reach whatever it is that you need. Find many custom and unique styles at Custom Service Hardware. We offer the simplicity and quiet of our E-Glide sliding ladders to complement more traditional spaces, or you can choose the sleek, modern ALTA metal rolling ladder for a contemporary kitchen or office. Any of our rolling ladders work well in residential or business spaces, and they make charming additions to restaurants, cafés, walk-in closets, or workshops. Since most rolling ladders today range from 8’ to 10’ feet in height, they’re perfect for maximizing space in any room with high ceilings. Choose from rich wood finishes, get custom designs, and pick your own hardware. 

If you’ve always liked the look of a rolling library ladder and want to add one to your home or business, contact us at 262-375-7960 for more information.