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How To Organize a Personal Home Library

Updated on November 4, 2010

Author's Note

*** This is a reprint of one of my articles that appeared in The London Free Press, October 23, 1993. ***

Books Can Pile Up Everywhere

Simple to Develop, Helps Organize Your Growing Collection of Books

What comes in all colours and sizes, and can be found on tabletops, floors, nightstands, refrigerators, desks, in bathrooms and cars? Give up? The answer is BOOKS.

There is printed matter for every interest imaginable, and if you have a family of avid readers with a voracious appetite for books, it takes some imagination to keep them from cluttering up the entire house.

A home library is simple to develop, and provides a means of organizing your growing book and magazine collection. It need not take a lot of work or money to get started.

First of all, you need a place to put your books. You can spend a little or a lot, as your situation dictates.

If you are building a home or renovating, it would be a good idea to incorporate any built-in shelving into your blueprints. You can have your library complete in one room, or have mini-libraries in various areas around the house. Be sure to include adequate lighting. It is difficult to read the spines if the room is dim.

Incorporate Built-in Shelving Into Your Blueprints

Have libraries located in one location or throughout the house
Have libraries located in one location or throughout the house

Organize Your Home Library and Your Child's

Home Libraries Can Be Portable

If you want to be able to move things around, you can buy inexpensive portable shelving that can be added to. Start with a one, three or five shelf unit, buy another stand beside it, and so on. Of course, if you have the means, you can invest in a custom hand-made unit to stand independently or to be installed as a permanent fixture.

If you have an old wardrobe or two that you don't know what to do with, they make handsome book cupboards that also allow you to keep the room looking neat and tidy.

For collectors of fine works or other treasures, a library is a wonderful way to show off your vast assortment of impressive tomes. Naturally, you'll want to make sure that you procure only hard cover or leather bound editions in order to amaze people. Six of these look more like a collection tha a dozen soft covers.

Adults are not the only people who enjoy owning books. A home library is of benefit to children, too. Kids are more likely to pick a book to read, or properly research a project, if the material is easy to retrieve. If they have to hunt for it, they probably won't bother.

Where to Start

There are many different ways to organize your compilation of reading matter. Alphabetically by title or author; novels on one shelf with non-fiction on another; by subject or category; all your how-to's together; hard coers in one spot with covers somewhere else. If you can keep the kid's books in their rooms, they can pick out something to read before bed, which is a great habit to instill.

Safe Haven

Aside from be to find the publication that you want or need in a reasonable amount of time, a library is also a safe haven for books. They stay clean and intact when kept on shelves, prolonging their life and your investment. A good way to sort the author and subject, with the children's reference books in a separate spot, or on lower shelves that are within easy reach of your youngsters. Each family member may want a unit in his or he to hold their special books no one else would want to read.

Will you sometimes get too many books? You bet. Then you sort through and pull out the 'duds' or the ones that you do not concider 'keepers', and take them to your local public library for donation. If you have enough volumes, you could always have a garage sale. That way you can keep your library under control.


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