How to Organise a Home Library

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Whether reading for work or pleasure or to write an essay, it is important to keep book collections well organize to ensure that the right book can be found when it is needed.

Public libraries provide access to books with low or minimal cost and no storage issues. It is nice to have a collection of favorite or useful books at home, however, particularly those that are read or referred to frequently.

How to Organise a Home Library

Storing and Organizing Books

Space is a major factor in deciding where and how many books can be kept. While it is possible to keep books stored in boxes under beds or in cupboards, these books are often forgotten or neglected. Ideally, there should be sufficient space to display books so that they can be used regularly.

Bookshelves are available in a range of sizes and strengths. If there are several large, heavy books in a collection or if the book collection is particularly large, it is best to make sure that shelves are sturdy and well-built. A full bookshelf has to support a surprisingly large weight and it is better to buy or build shelves that are strong enough to begin with rather than having the additional expense of replacing them.

Choose an area in the home that is suitable and considers how much space is available. Book collections may need to be culled and sorted to fit the available space. While it is best to not have books scattered throughout the house, some books such as cookbook collections and children’s picture books can be kept in the appropriate rooms.

Storing Children’s Books

Children’s books can often be kept in a bookcase or shelves in their bedroom. To encourage children to read, make sure that their books are easily accessible. If there are special or significant books that need extra care, keep these on a higher shelf. General picture books or novels should be stored at a height that can be easily reached.

Heavy Books and Reference Books

A dictionary, thesaurus or other reference books that is regularly accessed should be kept in the study or on the desk where it is most often used. Other reference books can be kept together on bookshelves.

Many reference books are large and heavy, so they are best stored on lower shelves to minimize the risk of injury for younger family members trying to pull them from high shelves. Storing them on a bottom shelf also minimizes problems with requiring stronger or reinforced shelving to manage their weight.

Organising and Cataloguing Books

If books are regularly loaned to others it is a good idea to keep a record of what books have been loaned to whom. This can be simply done by noting the book title and the name of the person borrowing it in a notebook.

Alternatively, book collection database software provides a book tracking facility. It has the added advantage of keeping track of book collection details for insurance records. The value of book collections is often under-appreciated by many householders until it is necessary to make a claim on contents insurance if the collection is damaged or stolen.

Organising a Home Library

While public and formal libraries rely on the Dewey or other organizational system, these require too much time to maintain for the average family book collection. It takes much less effort to simply store books in their genre.

More fragile or valued books should be kept on higher shelves away from inquisitive children’s fingers. Non-fiction and reference books can be grouped together and sorted into particular topics if desired. Fiction books can be grouped in classics, poetry, suspense/thriller, chick lit/romance, adventure, science fiction/fantasy, humor and any other relevant genres.

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