Why organize your library?

by admin on September 27, 2017

By Brenda Lant-Humby, library organizer

I’ve always maintained that “a person’s library speaks volumes about them.” Have you ever visited someone’s home who has an extensive book collection? What did their bookshelves look like? Was it impressive or were the shelves unorganized, books lying on top of books, no indication of what was on the shelves, books needing repair? A person’s book choices reflect what they are interested in, what makes them tick. I feel it’s a great shame when their shelves don’t. I see our books as assets, each one an accomplishment – something read, something learned, new perspectives gained. Some books have fond memories attached to them. Books bequeathed to me by my father, passed on down from my great grandparents. Books bought on holiday, books that have taken me on holiday. Books given as presents. Books that have moved me, books that have helped me form my opinion of the world. My books are a big part of who I am. Books are reliable friends, always on the ready to share what’s in them. We should therefore, respect them.

“A person’s library speaks volumes about them.”

Here’s why I organize my library:

  1. It just looks better. If you’re like most serious book collectors you take some pride in your collection. You should take pride in how you display them too.
  2. Preservation. Are your books becoming damaged by use, neglect, improper storage or the passing of time? Organizing helps preserve the state of our books for longevity, for the next owners. Do you know how your books should be put on the shelves, pulled off the shelves, stacking vs. standing? Do they need to be protected by dust jackets? What’s the best location in our home or office? We are just temporary custodians of our books, we need to take proper care of them. Instead of trading our beloved books for newer versions, we should be caring for them, restoring them.
  3. Efficiency. Can you find what book you are looking for when you need it? It’s frustrating to make reference to a book you know you have in your collection but can’t find it.
  4. Duplication. I am sure that we share this in common – you’ve purchased a book on more than a few occasions only to get home and discover that you already own it. I don’t like wasting my time or money.
  5. Lost books. How many books have you loaned out over the years and haven’t had them returned – I bet you’ve lost track of books because you don’t remember lending them out?
  6. Insurance. If part of your collection was stolen or worse, damaged or lost by fire, flood or other natural disaster, do you know what the replacement value is? Do you have your collection properly insured? Do you have a pictorial record of your rare books? Would you be able to prove to your insurer what first editions you had collected?
  7. Reference. Each book I’ve read has left its own kind of imprint on me. I like to jot notes down, whether it be for personal reflection or professional recollection.

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