Check It Out: How to Keep Your Library Organized

If, like me, you are a bit of a book hoarder, and you find your collection growing to the point where other people feel they need to intervene after being unable to find a bare spot on your bookshelves for knick-knacks, then you may want to check out my last post on how to organize your library. But once you’ve tamed your monstrous collection, then what? How are you supposed to keep your library in check when your reading habits haven’t changed? The answer is to add with caution.

To E-Read, or not to E-Read?

An e-reader would be nice, but I love the feel of real books.


At first I was really against e-readers. I thought they were pretentious and a waste of money. I didn’t think I’d be able to read comfortably without the tactile feeling of a book in my hand. Also, I was broke. But when I started running out of room on my shelves (again) a few years ago, I realized that reading electronically might be a good way to save some space. That realization didn’t change the fact that I was still broke. Luckily many e-book retailers also have phone and computer apps available, so I was able to read from my computer and phone without adding to my mess. Since then I’ve owned two e-readers—my daughter found and broke the first one—and I have to say there are a few pros and cons that aren’t widely discussed, like the fact that you can read anything you want, even those romance books with questionable covers, without anyone looking at you funny.

  • Pro:  You can feed your book habit without seeming like a hoarder because all the books you read are digital. All those piles of paperbacks that would have accumulated on the flat surfaces of your apartment are now contained on one light device. You have become a digital hoarder, congratulations. 
  • Con: You can feed your book habit without seeming like a hoarder because all the books you read are digital. If you already have a book collection that threatens to overtake your house, you need to be careful with your digital purchases; they start to add up quickly if you’re a voracious reader. After I started e-reading, I realized I spent A LOT more on books than I normally did.

If you e-read a book that you love or want to lend out, then buy a paper version to add to your now (more or less) organized shelves.

Shhh! Quiet in the Library!

I’d like to check books out of the library, but I hate paying the late fees.

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Me too. The library is a great option for avid readers who don’t want to add to their collections, but late fees, while being way cheaper than buying a book, can become annoying. Here are a few tips on how to avoid being late to the library.

  • Make a note on your calendar a few days before your due date. It’s like setting your clock five minutes early; you know you’ve done it, but it still functions as a good reminder.
  • Designate a spot for your library books. Keeping them all in one place makes it easier to find them when the time comes to take them back.
  • Only take out as many books as you can read. This one seems obvious, but when you find all the books on your list (and a few extras) put a couple back. I know, you NEED to read them, but give someone else a chance to read them this week and get them on your nest trip.

Do I Already Own This?

Yes, I probably do. Or maybe I don’t. I should buy it in case I don’t.

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This is pretty close to what my internal monologue sounds like at my local used book store whenever I find myself looking at classical literature and poetry—and almost anything by Roald Dahl. Avoid duplicate purchases by cataloging your library. There are many apps available (some paid, and some free) that will allow you to catalog your books by the ISBN number on the back or by scanning the barcode. I personally like the Goodreads app for this purpose, but there are plenty of apps out there to choose from, so try a few and pick one that’s right for you.

If you’ve managed to get your home library organized and set a system in place to keep it in control, I think you should go out and reward yourself. How about a trip to the library? Just try to steer clear of the sale shelf.

What part do you think is hardest: getting organized, or staying that way?  Let me know in the comments.