Home Library Management: Where do I begin?

home library management: where do i begin?

Home Library Management is a mini-series based on a presentation I originally gave to a homeschool group when I was a professional librarian years ago. These are updated thoughts based on my current experience as a home librarian surrounded by boys and overflowing bookshelves. I’d love to hear your thoughts as we walk through the library organization process from start to finish.

Of Making Many Books, There is No End…

Or, why you should organize your home library!

Book lovers read, and, therefore, think they know everything. They think they can milk cows, fly planes, grow orchids, and build sturdy, beautiful, inexpensive bookcases, relying only on the information they find in a book. If this were true, book lovers would be the richest, most physically attractive, longest-lived, and most influential group of people on the planet.

Patricia Jean Wagner, The Bloomsbury Review Booklover’s Guide

The gathered assembly

Collecting is a curious appetite. Is it the hunting or the having which brings pleasure? The hunt provides excuse to inquire at every bookshop whether there are any available titles by Mrs. E. Prentiss (author of Stepping Heavenward) available, any unusual illustrators of Alice in Wonderland, or simply additional titles for an upcoming school book list.

Although many kinds of objects may be gathered to form a collection, books are unique because their identity and content help define the multi-faceted character of their keeper. Our formative reading from childhood mingles with our present interests and future intentions, building thought upon thought and inviting conversation. How else could you have tea with someone you have never met in person, whether dead or alive? Would you expect to form an intimate acquaintance with C. S. Lewis or Christina Rossetti and summon them to into your presence at will? Books afford us opportunities we might never have otherwise.

Your first mission

Despite the delights of the hunt for (and acquisition of) books, we are all bound by the temporal limits of time and space. Eventually we must face our limits, wrangle our precious home libraries into order, and even (gasp!) weed out some titles in order to better showcase and use the remaining collection. After we wrestle with our heart issues, and before we dive into the practical ins and outs of home library management and organization, I have a small homework task for you.

Take a “field trip” through your collection

Take notes of the general categories (picture books, nonfiction, etc.) that are important to your family. Also note if you have any duplicates, (but don’t discard anything yet). This is not the time to note your small, but impressive, collection of 5 vintage poetry books, only that you need a place for them (if you determine that they do, in fact, matter sufficiently to merit their own shelf space).

Second, choose a category to start with.

Make it broad without a lot of subcategories (“picture books,” not “nonfiction”). Walk back through your house and pull every item that fits that category. Stack them on the floor so you can see how much shelf space you will need.

Third, decide the best place to put this each category of books that provides access for its PRIMARY users.

Make sure to leave a margin of space at the end of the bookshelf, both for future collection development and also to make shelving as easy as possible. If you have no bookshelf available, you can still follow along. I will be showing bookshelf alternatives in coming posts.

Follow through the next steps with this ONE category you’ve gathered. Then you can tackle the rest of your collection.

Read the series thus far:

NOTE: If you are reading this post during a busy time (back-to-school, Christmas holidays, right before you leave on vacation, or right after you have a baby), please bookmark it and come back later. Even without moving major shelf contents, you can still think about WHAT categories you have and WHERE the primary users would like to be able to access them.

How did it go? Did you find any surprises? Any duplicates? Any delightful rediscoveries?

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Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

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Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

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