We love books around here. The physical kind. Digital books are okay and I do have some of those as well, but I often forget I have them, which is why it is important to have a plan for how to store them! Not to mention I love holding, feeling, and smelling a physical book. And I am delighted to be able to loan books to friends and family when they find one that piques their interest.
In fact, I think we fit the definition of bibliophiles. We currently have close to 3,000 books on our shelves. One daughter has declared that she wants to collect first edition books. (It’s a good thing her current interests include mostly books that have been published recently so purchasing a first edition book is still affordable!) I have talked before about where I purchase our books. I definitely do not break the bank. In fact, I usually spend less than $4 per book.
With that many books, it is imperative to have my books organized and cataloged. It is not as difficult or time-consuming as it may sound if you have a plan. So let’s take a look at the benefits of an organized home library and then dive into how you can organize your home library.
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 not only in which section the books belonged, but also how to place them on the shelf—spine out, sticker at the bottom. And they didn’t even have to be able to read!
2. As our collection grew, 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 on the app on my phone when I am out shopping to see if I already have a book that I just saw at a great price or if a grandparent wants to purchase a book.
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. My categories are:
- Early Readers
- Chapter Books
- Fine Arts
- 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 had a self-inking stamp with “Wagner Library” made at Staples. Alternatively, you could use mailing labels or return address labels.
- software—I use Bookpedia, which also has a mobile option. Other options include: a spreadsheet, Biblio, and Book Buddy.
- label protectors or packing tape—Sometimes the colored dot stickers do not stay on the spine well. These label protectors or a small piece of packing tape helps to keep them in place.
- book glue—This book adhesive is helpful to keep on hand for when a book starts coming apart at the spine.
- contact paper—Sometimes the edges of paperback books get bent. This tutorial demonstrates how to cover a book to protect and repair it.
- bookshelves or other storage options such as baskets and bins
3. Physically handle each book
I pulled off a whole shelf of books at a time. 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 as overwhelming. Record the book in the software of your choice. Stamp it with your library stamp so you know it is your book if you loan it out. And affix a sticker to the spine to correspond to the appropriate category.
This is also a good time to weed out your collection. Donate or sell any books you no longer want, are duplicates, or are twaddle. I was shocked at how many duplicate books I had. My friends were happy though!
4. If the book needs to be re-covered, set it aside after recording it
5. Place the book on the appropriate shelf
It may take awhile 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. I still find I occasionally need to rearrange the 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 (and husband) to bring new books to you that need to be recorded, as well as any they find without a sticker.
Also, have a system for loaning books to friends so you can find them when you are ready to read them again. Bookpedia has a way of “checking out” books. Other programs probably have a similar feature. Or you can simply take a picture of books that someone borrows or record it on a spreadsheet or index card.
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