The abstract of What Was Mr. Bennet Doing in His Library and What Does it Matter? by H.J. Jackson states:
In this article, Jackson uses the familiar example of the Bennet household in Pride and Prejudice to outline some of the practices associated with the establishment and maintenance of a library about 1800. Besides gathering clues from the novel itself and providing information about the resources likely to have been available in or near a market town like Meryton, this essay speculates that Mr. Bennet might have been writing in his books and surveys some of the ways of writing that would have been available to him.
This vastly interesting essay, part of a series of essays on Romantic Libraries, is filled with insights like these:
The possession of a library—of a dedicated space, as well as of a private collection of books—is a clear indicator of status in the novel, reflecting relatively recent social developments. The Bingleys, renting Netherfield, have a room but not many books; their new money will be put to use in this generation by the purchase of property and the beginning of a collection. Darcy has a fine library at Pemberley, “the work of many generations,” to which he is constantly adding. His idea of a “truly accomplished woman” is one who would put it to use, a goddess capable of improving “her mind by extensive reading”. “I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these,” he says. His is the standard to which all aspire. The Bennet library is one of the bonds between Elizabeth’s family and the one that she will marry into: “He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter,” as she defiantly but rather disingenuously declares to Lady Catherine. They have the same social values.