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  • Writer's pictureJonda Beattie

What’s in Your Bookcase?

As an organizer, I help my clients determine what they want to organize and what they want to let go. Some things are relatively straight forward. Extra furniture that no longer fits the house, extra kitchen items that are no longer used, clothes that are dated or no longer fit, and old electronics are usually not too difficult to let go. But when it comes to books, there is a large group of people who feel like we are asking them to choose which of their children they should throw out into the cold.

While I never tell a client what to get rid of or what to keep, I do often suggest that what is kept have a place to be stored. So, if you are saving 500 books, let’s have containers – usually bookcases – to store them so they are not stacked on the floor or strewn haphazardly around the house. Honor what you keep.

I once went to do an assessment for a potential client who had several rooms with bookcases that went down the middle of the rooms as well as along the sides. Think public library stacks. It worked for him and the books were contained. He could and did part with a few and had his plan to honor and store the rest.

I have a client who has an enormous collection of professional books he has never read and probably never will. He reads the covers and some bits to see what the book is about but prefers to do actual reading on the topics from articles on line. He is preparing to move so we are having the discussion of looking at each book and deciding if some can be donated and how to shelve the ones he intends to keep. When I asked him why he kept buying so many books that he knew he would never read, he stated that he liked the idea of having his own library.

I recently worked with another professional who was feeling overwhelmed by the heaviness of her small office. She had 3 shelves of books that were hanging over her desk and stacks of items on her desk and under her desk. As we pulled down her books and sorted through them, she could see that she had some that no longer needed to be in her library. She sorted her books into categories: trash, donate to charity, donate to Friends of the Public Library, put into a small lending library outside her office, put on shelves out in the main office that is shared by all who work there, a few to take home, and the rest back on her shelves. After the session, she had touched and reacquainted herself with all her books. She now only needed two of those shelves and had space for some decorative items as well.

As far as my own bookcases (one in my office and one in the kitchen) I sort through them once every year, dusting the books before replacing them. I usually have accumulated a few books through out the year either as a purchase or as a gift. After I have read a novel, I rarely feel the need to keep it. I would much rather pass it on to a friend or donate it so that someone else can enjoy it. My professional books are also re-evaluated.

For me, the bottom line is you keep what you love and use and those things that you do keep should be maintained and honored.

Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer

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