How To Organize A Home Library In 5 Simple Steps

Preview: Organizing your home library can seem like a daunting task. Learn how to organize a home library in 5 easy steps.

We love books around here.

The physical kind.

Digital books are okay, and we enjoy those too, but we often forget about them.

Not to mention that I love holding, feeling, and smelling a physical book. And I am delighted that I can loan books to friends and family when they find one that piques their interest.

We definitely fit the definition of bibliophiles. We currently own over 3,400 books. With that many books, it is imperative to have our books organized and cataloged. It is not as difficult or time-consuming as it may sound if you have a plan.

Organizing your home library can seem like a daunting task. Learn how to organize a home library in 5 easy steps.

In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of having an organized home library and how to organize a home library. I’ll break it down step-by-step so you can tackle the project in bite-sized pieces.

Benefits Of Organizing Your Home Library

There were two primary reasons I decided to invest the time to organize our home library.

1. I was tired of being the only one who could put books away and still be able to find them again. With stickers on the books, my daughters could see at a glance in which section the books belonged and how to place them on the shelf—spine out, sticker at the bottom. And they didn’t even need to be able to read!

2. I wanted to purchase fewer duplicates. It was difficult to remember which books we had and if they were loaned out or just hiding in a bedroom. Having them cataloged means I can quickly look at the app on my phone when I am out shopping to see if I already own a book.

5 Simple Steps To Organizing Your Home Library

1. Determine which categories you will use.

This will also determine how many and what color dot stickers you need to purchase (more on that in a moment).

My categories are:

  • Early Readers
  • Chapter Books
  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • History
  • Science
  • Math
  • Geography
  • Bible & Faith
  • Teacher Resources
  • Personal Development

2. Gather supplies.

  • Colored dot stickers—I use the 3/4” colored dot stickers from Demco. You could also use colored masking tape.
  • Library stamp—I purchased a self-inking stamp with “Wagner Library” from Staples. Alternatively, you could use mailing labels, return address labels, or write your name in the book.
  • Software—I use Bookpedia, which also has a mobile option. Other options include a spreadsheet, Biblio, and Book Buddy.
  • Label protectors or packing tape—If the colored dot stickers do not stay on the spine well, you can use label protectors or a small piece of packing tape to keep them in place.
  • Book glue—This book adhesive is helpful for when a book starts coming apart at the spine.
  • Contact paper—If the edges of a paperback book are bent or getting worn, follow the tutorial below to cover it with contact paper to protect and repair it.
  • Bookshelves or other storage options such as baskets and bins

3. Catalog your books.

Physically handle each book. I know this sounds daunting, but I found that if I set a goal of going through one shelf a day, the task was not overwhelming. We organized our whole library in one summer.

  1. Pull off one shelf of books at a time.
  2. Record each book in the software of your choice (see options listed above).
  3. Stamp the book with your library stamp.
  4. Affix a category sticker to the spine.

This is also a good time to weed out your collection. Donate or sell any books you no longer want or are duplicates. I was shocked at how many duplicate books I had.

4. Repair books, if needed.

You can use book glue to repair loose pages or contact paper to recover a well-loved book.

5. Place the book on the appropriate shelf.

It may take a while to determine how much space is needed for each category if you do not already have them sorted, so be prepared to move them around. When possible, I keep books from a series together on the shelf. We still periodically need to rearrange our books to make room for an expanding category.

Maintaining Your Home Library

After you record all of your books, your job is not finished. Books can be a lot like rabbits in that they seem to multiply rapidly. Record new books as you purchase them and train your children to bring new books to you so you can record them.

It is helpful to have a system for loaning books to friends to know where they are when you are ready to reread them. Bookpedia has a way of “checking out” books. Other programs probably have a similar feature. Or you can take a picture of books that someone borrows or record it on a spreadsheet or index card.

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