Book lovers enjoy the company of books. They run their fingers across each page, breathe in the smell of paper. But what happens when the books start taking over living space? When they crowd a stairway? When they haven’t been opened for years? Or, when you cannot find the book you want after hours of searching for it?
A lawyer couple called me to help them with their book dilemma. Every room in the house was lined with bookshelves, even the bedroom. They kept adding shelves to hold their collection, until one day there was no more room.
I entered one home where my staff and I had to walk single file and sideways to get through the rooms of a house that was overloaded with books. Another home I visited was not that full, but the books were piling up in the hallway and on the stairs. The owner precariously navigated her way around them.
Protecting and living in harmony with books is do-able when you have the space and some system for organizing your book collection.
What to do with unwanted books
When space for proper book storage is no longer available and becomes jeopardized or unsafe, the time to address it is now. The owner needs to reconsider keeping every book. A professional organizer can help. If you haven’t opened certain books for years, consider offering them to friends and family members. Selling them to a used bookstore or book specialist is an alternative. You can also donate books to some libraries, schools, and charity organizations. Valuable books that are no longer wanted can be offered as charity auction items. For those who want to save future trees, recycling books is an option. You won’t have to do all this leg work yourself when you are working with a professional organizer. The organizer can help you find the resources you need.
Organize your book collection
Once your book collection is scaled down to fit your space, the time to organize what’s left begins. Some people like to categorize their book collection by genre. Others want the books they reference most to be in the forefront and easily accessible. Some prefer alphabetizing by title or author. A professional organizer will prioritize such a project and make suggestions based on how you interact with your book collection.
Today, lots of information can be found online and in digital formats. Local libraries are an alternative to ownership. Borrow. Read. Return. I understand that certain books will always remain a precious belonging. Some clients hold a book to their chest and say, “I read this book every night when I was 10 years old.” Or, “This book got me through a really tough time.” And, “The characters in this book are my friends.” One of my favorite sentiments shared was this one: “Grandma read this to me. I still hear her voice on every page.” For the books you love, there should be a place where they are protected, accessible and organized. For the ones that are just taking up space, let them go.