Vol.2, No.6

Bookshelf organization

Get some quick tips for improving the look of your cluttered bookshelf

Bookshelf notepads
Photo Credit: Alex Bramwell
Organizing your bookshelves may seem like a tedious task, but completing it can give you a real sense of accomplishment, as well as improve the overall look of your personal library.

Before organizing your bookshelves, you should always remove the entire book collection from the shelves and thoroughly dust and clean the area. Dust can be damaging to books, so brush it away gently with a feather duster or a synthetic dusting pad. Dust your bookshelves with an appropriate household cleaner such as Pledge. Don't skip any shelves! This will greatly improve the look of your collection.

Next, ask yourself what kind of book collection you have, as this will give you a clearer idea of how you should organize it. Do you have mostly a collection of reference materials that would be best organized alphabetically by title so that you can find the information you're looking for quickly? Do you have a collection of fiction favorites that would be best organized by author's name? Do you want to separate your collection into fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and reference? Do all the children's books need to go on the bottom shelf for easy reach by little hands? On paper, map out a rough sketch of your bookshelf and decide where you want each part of your book collection to go.

Once you know where you want your collection to fit in on your shelves, it's time to go through your books. Now that you've already taken out the entire collection to dust and clean, it would be an excellent time to ask yourself if there are any books that you don't need, want, or haven't read yet. Any books that you don't want or need can be donated to several worthy organizations - research some in your area, or simply donate them to the local library or children's hospital. Another option is to sell your unwanted books to resale shops or chains like Half Price Books. Thought the money you'll earn from this sale most likely won't be significant unless you're unloading a truckload, a little extra cash never hurts. Consider setting aside the books you haven't read and making a reading list for yourself. Put the first book on your list on your bedside table so that you can get started tonight!

Now that you've freshened your collection, check around the house for any books left laying about that might need to be categorized and put away. Did little Johnny leave his storybook on his bedroom floor? Has your husband finished The Da Vinci Code weeks ago, yet it's still lying next to his favorite chair? Collect these books and add them to the collection.

Next, sort out the collection into piles according to the plan you sketched out on paper. Organize your books into their appropriate places on your bookshelves. If you have extra space, pick up an inexpensive set of bookends to even out the look, or turn a few books with the covers facing outward for a more artistic display. Stand back and admire your hard work and your new clean organized bookshelves.