You love to read, and your books are your most prized possessions. But what happens when your collection gets out of control? Stacks of books scattered throughout the house cause stress and make your home look cluttered. Lack of storage or an organized system can make finding the book you want challenging. You might even be ruining your favorite novels if you aren’t storing them properly.
Whether you need to organize your collection, children’s books, or an entire family library, these five tips will help create a neat, attractive home library.
Tip 1: Take inventory
How many books do you have? Once you’ve gathered the books scattered throughout your house, you might be surprised at how many there are. The number of books you have will help determine what kind of storage you need. Can you place a few open shelves throughout the house, or do you need to transform a guest bedroom or home office into your private library?
While taking stock of your book collection, pay attention to different genres and types of books. Making separate piles will help you stay organized and figure out where to store the books at the end of the day. For instance, you’ll probably want to keep cookbooks in the kitchen, children’s books in the kid’s rooms, and work-related books in your home office. If your kids are old enough to help, have them take their books back to their rooms.
Figuring out how many books you have and how many of each kind of book you have will help you pick out the best spots for your home library.
Tip 2: Declutter
It can be difficult to get rid of books, but once you do, it’ll be easier to find the ones you like or need. You can donate, sell, or recycle old books. Donate cookbooks you haven’t cooked from, children’s books that your kids have outgrown, and anything you haven’t reached for in the past couple of years.
If you’re having a tough time letting go of books, ask yourself some questions. Would you reread the book? Was the book memorable at all? Would you recommend the book to a friend or family member? If the answer to these questions is no, put those books in the donation pile.
If your book collection needs a total overhaul, sit down and write a list of your favorite ten authors. Then, get rid of any books not written by those authors. You can always go to the library to discover new favorites!
Of course, bookworms can’t help buying new books. Consider keeping space in your home to put books you don’t want to keep. If you do this, you won’t accumulate many more books you don’t like and can donate the ones you don’t want regularly.
Tip 3: Shelving and storage
Once you’ve donated, sold, or recycled a few books, look at what’s left. Make sure to invest in bookshelves that can handle the weight of your books. Open shelving may look appealing, but these shelves don’t hold much weight. A standard three-foot shelf holds around 135 pounds, while wall-to-wall shelves can hold up to 180 pounds.
If you have free-standing bookshelves, ensure you properly anchor them to the wall. Overloading the shelves can cause damage and even injuries, so pay attention to weight capacity when figuring out storage solutions for your collection.
If you have the space, dedicate a room to your home library. Consider built-in bookshelves, and use vertical storage wherever you can. Keeping your books neatly on the shelves reduces clutter and looks more pleasing to the eye. Select shelves that reflect your home decor style, and pick a matching cozy armchair and decorative lamp for a reading nook.
When possible, don’t fill the bookshelf. Even a tall shelf can look cluttered and distracting if there are too many books. Leave a few empty spaces so you can style the bookcases with pictures, houseplants, or even small sculptures. At the very least, you’ll have some space left for new books.
You may have a few books you would like your kids to read, but they’re not quite old enough. Store those books in plastic storage tubs in a dry place, like a shelf in the attic or basement. Cardboard attracts mice and other bugs and won’t protect your books from accidental leaks either.
Tip 4: Create sections
There are many ways to organize your home library. Creating sections will help you start. Begin by separating the books by audience: children, young adults, and the rest. From there, you can separate nonfiction from fiction and organize the fiction according to the genre. Organize the books alphabetically by title or author’s last name if you want to get very detailed.
Some people like arranging their books in a rainbow pattern. If you use this color coding in your home library, it may be helpful to avoid narrowing the books down into very small sections. You can still have fiction separated from nonfiction, then set everything in ROYGBIV order according to the colors on the cover art. You can use neutral book covers in white, gray, or black to create a gradient effect at the rainbow’s end.
You can even sort the books by size. Arranging books by size actually helps keep them in good condition. Larger books on the shelf might lean too much on smaller books, damaging the spines. If you have to stack books horizontally, make sure the books are of similar size and that the largest text is on the bottom.
Keep in mind which organizational method works best for you and your family. It may look nicer to have everything organized by size and color, but if you can’t find the book you’re looking for because you’re not sure what it looks like, sorting by author name or title may be a better option.
Tip 5: Preventing book damage
Before placing your books on their shelves, ensure that your home library will keep your favorite books in top condition. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding book care.
Too much humidity leads to mold and mildew in your favorite paperbacks and hardcovers. The room where you store your books needs the correct ventilation and airflow.
If you accidentally get a book wet, ensure it’s completely dry before putting it back on the shelf. If the book is still wet, it will get damaged – and the damage may spread down the shelf.
Avoid eating around your books to prevent pests
Have you ever placed a full cup of tea on top of a book and then the tea spilled, ruining the cover art two days after you paid full price for the newest edition? …Neither have we.
Obviously, eating around books can be dangerous. Spills happen to the best of us, and though we may stack books on top of end tables, you should not use books in place of coasters. If you eat or drink near your books, you may accidentally attract pests to your library, like bugs and mice.
If you enjoy the occasional snack while reading in your private home library, make sure you clean up after yourself. Watch your books for signs of pests. If you notice small holes in the pages or on the covers, you may have a mouse or bug problem.
Too much dust can damage your books. Dusting is a simple way to prevent damage unless you’re going to protect every item in your library with plastic covers. Dust also attracts pests, so regular dusting helps keep those critters away.
Organizing your home library gives you a neat, comforting space to enjoy your favorite books. Whether you have an entire room of books to enjoy or a couple of shelves placed next to a cozy reading nook, your home will look and feel better with each book in its place.