Organizing book collections often requires daunting decisions. How to decide which books to keep? What if you want to read a favorite again, pass a recommendation along to a friend, or remember concepts within the pages for reference? Consider the following ideas to help with the decisions as you get your book collection right-sized and organized.
Identify any books that you no longer want in your collection: old textbooks, book club novels from years gone by, nutrition and diet books that are not for you, or how-to manuals for hobbies that no longer fit your schedule and priorities. Do a first pass of your current book collection to eliminate the obvious books you can edit from your shelves.
With the first round of editing done, it’s time to ask the more difficult questions. To determine what will or will not make the final cut in your collection, consider a few things:
Now that your collection has been edited to just your favorites, your next reads, rare books, sentimental reads and books that are referenced somewhat regularly, its time to sort and organize. Sort your books by genre and also by paperback or hardbound within each category. Group magazines or catalogues together and organize them by genre into magazine files.
Empty the shelving unit completely and wipe it down. Next, assess whether you want the display to be decorative or strictly functional to maximize storage capacity. If aesthetic appeal is important, display the hardbound books and nicer looking paperbacks on open shelves. You may like to hide well-loved paperbacks in lower cabinets or within labeled decorative baskets on open shelves.
When placing books on the shelf, begin at the bottom of the bookshelf and work up, assuming you have adjustable shelves. This tactic will allow you to maximize your shelf capacity by adjusting the height of the next shelf up.
Keep genres together and place them upright in descending height order for a clean look. To keep the books upright, use bookends or stack three to four books horizontally to function as a bookend. When the books are organized on the shelves, align their spines a couple of inches from the front edge of the bookshelf to give the display a clean look.
Once your books are grouped and arranged as you like, place a few decorative items in the empty spaces to add some interest and personality to the book display. Some choices include framed photos, pieces of pottery, a figurine or animal statue. Children’s art pieces or family heirlooms passed down from previous generations add a meaningful touch. For a tidy look, utilize decorative baskets or boxes to contain other items that may need storage on the bookcase, like remotes, electronics, toys or office supplies.
Lighten your load and your library. Make the difficult but worthwhile edits and you’re sure to feel as good as a best-selling author.
Laura Leist, CPO
Organizing with Laura