How to Organize Your Books in Your Home Library

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A home library can be a bit overwhelming if you have a large collection of books which are not organized in any particular order, especially if you intend to re-read some of the titles. Organizing your home library need not take on the Dewey decimal system that many public libraries use, but you do want to easily be able to sort and find your titles by category, theme and author. A simple reorganization can make your library much more user-friendly and appealing to you, your family and visitors.

  • Remove all the books from your bookshelves and place them into three groupings on the floor: non-fiction, reference and fiction. Place them in such a manner that the titles are easy to read and books are easy to access -- in other words, do not stack them.

  • Sort these groupings into smaller categories: for instance, non-fiction books can be sorted into groups of dieting, biography, self-help, writing or whatever themes you find common among at least two books. Sort these sub-categories alphabetically by title if there are only a few, or by author if you have multiple books by the same author. Books by the same author should be listed in alphabetical order.

  • Determine which shelves should be used for non-fiction, reference and fiction based on how many books you have in each collection. Organize your shelves one collection at a time, by category alphabetically -- for instance, non-fiction order would be aviation, birds, cooking, diving; fiction order would be historical, sci-fi, western. Reference books should be grouped in one area according to alphabetical categories as well.

  • Reserve tall, deep shelves for coffee-table or photo books which do not fit on the standard shelves. If some books are too large for any of your shelves, you can group them on a shelf under a clear coffee table, or put them on the floor as an "art" accessory with bookends holding them up, as if the floor was another shelf.

  • Fill open spaces on the bookshelves by placing select books face-forward on the shelf for added effect. Small art objects and decor items can be placed in the center of larger open areas on the shelves.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you lend books from your library, you may want to include a library stamp/label inside your books that includes your name. Such labels are available at bookstores. Keep track of who has your books and when you've lent them.
  • If your library is exceptionally large, you may wish to catalog each book in a log book or with cataloging software. You could also label the bookshelves by category using labeling tape.
  • If there are small children in the house, keep your prized books out of their reach. Place their books on the bottom shelves if they have access to the room you use to display your library.

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