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Organizing Your Book Collection

Category Books
Picture of a several paperback books.
Have you ever not been able to find a book that you knew you had? Books are a great addition to any household, but they do take up a lot of space and require organization. This is a guide about organizing your book collection.
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November 8, 2007

I have purchased quite a few books over the years. I spent so much money on the books themselves that I didn't have enough leftover to buy shelving, and that's where I got the idea for this helpful little tip. I had stacks of books all over the house, and I finally decided that something had to be done, so I went on a hunt. I found a damaged dresser that had been left in the basement by the previous owner of the house, so I pulled it out and started brainstorming a way to turn it into a bookshelf.

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I came up with the idea of taking all the hardware off the drawers and stacking the drawers on top of each other. The bottoms of the drawers now became the back of my new modular shelving unit. Each shelf measures 36 inches wide, 15 inches high, and 8 inches deep. With a little bit of staining, the new shelves make a beautiful addition to the living room, turning my unsightly stacks of books into a source of numerous complements.

By Jessica from Marion, NC

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By 7 found this helpful
March 12, 2013

I have moved a number of times and have found through experience that when moving my many books it is best to use a smaller box, when possible. A good choice for me is one that is 1 foot square. This will require the use of more boxes, but has saved my back and the consistent size makes stacking easier.

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Similarly, I currently have a small house and can not have all of my books out on shelves. When I recently packed up some boxes with books that I had read I added a printed contents label to the outside. Now it is easier to find a specific book when I want to share it with a friend.

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September 19, 2014

As an old person with an arthritic neck I have dreamed up a better way to shelve some of my books. I place the ones whose titles can be read while the book is lying flat on the shelf in that position. I can stand there and read my titles without leaning to the side or craning my neck. I realize this won't be for everybody but maybe someone can use if.

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September 27, 2011

Books are among my most valued treasures! I believe they are part of what makes my house a home. As a senior citizen, I'd like to share with you what I have learned.

Don't store books in your bedroom. Books collect a lot of dust and sometimes mildew which is actually mold. Dust and mold aggravate allergies and sleep apnea which in turn effect the quality of your sleep. So for your health's sake, I encourage you to not use your bedroom for storage. Keep it easy to clean.

I believe floor to ceiling built-in shelving to be best for book storage. However, my family uses the inexpensive particle board shelving units. These units are practical as they can be moved. They fit nicely inside a closet for added shelving there.

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When you visit garage sales, flea markets, or antique stores, look for shelves that can be used for books. My daughter uses a short unit at the end of the island in her kitchen to store her cook books. My sister uses a wooden shoe shelf as storage space on her countertop in the kitchen. My son in law put a couple of these wooden shoe racks on top of the shelf in his coat closet and made added shelves there for photo albums, etc. The good part about portable shelving is that you can take it with you when you move!

I have always liked a bookcase with doors because it helps control dust. I sometimes consider using my old, outdated china closet for book storage. Maybe you have one of those, too.

I use my childhood antique chest with three drawers for storage of my music books. I use one for piano music, one for organ music, and one for special occasion music like weddings or Christmas.

Sometimes I think of my beloved books as clutter! Pare down your collection as much as possible. Bless the lives of others with your books. I trade books at: http://www.paperbackswap.com

I look forward to reading your ideas for storage of books.

By Carol from Wyoming, PA

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January 16, 2014

I have an extensive collection of books, mostly paperbacks. I am always finding ways to organize and display them. Recently, we got rid of many of our DVDs and video game cases so we no longer had a use for these tall narrow shelves. However, they are just the right size for paperbacks.

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By 2 found this helpful
September 28, 2011

My solution has four facets. First, go through and alphabetize your books according to title, laying them on the shelf flat with one pile for one or two alphabet letters. If the pile gets too large, start another one.

Books sorted on bookshelves.

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December 27, 20111 found this helpful

Most book lovers eventually encounter the same problem sooner or later: how to organize their book collection. If you have a few books then this might not be such a problem.

Lending Books, Organizing Your Book Collection

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By 2 found this helpful
July 21, 2011

I have organized my books first by subject, for example: home improvement, health, autobiographies, gardening, true crime, Oprah collection, spiritual, fiction, and non-fiction.

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July 20, 2011

If you have a computer, for the simplest way to organize your book would be to list them in alphabetical order. With that list, place them in a book shelves, starting from left to right (directional reading).

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July 3, 2007

I was getting overwhelmed with paperbacks, they would be 2 deep on my shelves and I would have trouble finding the one I wanted.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
July 29, 2006

My problem is that I don't know how to organize my books. I have alot of them and lots of shelves. Am I supposed to do them by author or subject or something?

Thanks for your advice!

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 30, 20060 found this helpful

I personally organize Fiction alphabetically and Non-Fiction by catagory. You could also learn the Dewey Decimal System that they use in Libraries. That would be a big help in the future.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 31, 20060 found this helpful

I would organize the books by age group. 0-3, 3-5, 5-7, etc. etc. You would know right away what age group they are suitable for.

Good luck!

Patsy

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 31, 20060 found this helpful

There are so many ways you can do this: The above suggestions are great. My mother worked at my elementary school...she worked in the library and as an assistant. DDS Dewey Decimal System works, we had over 1,000 books of all types at home as well. From reference, to children's to adult sci fi, fiction, non ficiton...She did the DDS at home, too. Personally, I would say go by faves. Your favourite genre, such as fiction, then alpha by author. It is your system, do what makes you feel most comfortable.

Just a hint for school...if you have your computer in your room. Keep a dictionary, grammar dictionary, Thesaurus, and even a spelling dictionary (just used to confirm spellings, not giving out defintions. It will help when you are doing reports. Not only was my mother in education, but my beloved grandmother also was an educator...I never handed in a report, thesis, or any type homework that was not perfect or near perfect. Organising your personal collection will spill over into organising your school books, then your work will become more organised, and on... Good luck.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 1, 20060 found this helpful

I have a large collection of books of all sorts.

I list them by subject first, then by titles so they are easy to find.

Hope this helps you.

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August 1, 20060 found this helpful

I organize books by SIZE

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 27, 20070 found this helpful

My name is Dawn Reitz and I am a professional organizer and the owner of AMOR (www.amoreorganizedresidence.com) in Las Vegas. There is a product called IntelliScanner (www.intelliscanner.com) that can help you. You just scan the bar code on the book and create a catalog on your computer for quick and easy access to your favorite books or specific topics. Then (as a feng shui consultant) I recommend arranging your books in a non-clutter and attractive way. Check it out. Hope this helps you.

Dawn@amoreorganizedresidence.com

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 10, 20080 found this helpful

I organize mine alphabetically by author. Then i further organize them by published date. When i go to book sales all my books are on my pda to let me know what i have and what i need. If you don't have a pda try a card file. You can set it up by author a-z and by pub date just like in your shelves. I also know what hardbacks and what paperbacks I have.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 16, 20090 found this helpful

I have an office with two computers (all the computer stuff and books are in one room) Along one wall I have nothing but bookshelves. I have books from when I awas previously in school, the books that have interested me in the years, to the current school books that I need. I have all my books that I have in one spot. All of them except for my collectables9 from my great granmother etc that I keep seperate locked away in the bedroom.

I don't use a DDS or alphabetize them. One shelf, is the fiction that I have read (holding up the books that I haven't read to see what I want to read next.

Another shelf for the references (thesaraus, dict, spanish-english, family bible etc.)

Another shelf for all the computer books, from pragram manuals to digital photography.

Another, gardening, dog books and a few home improvements books.

Another shelf is strictly for the current semester. I put my books here when I don't need them and have a file for each class.

Another for history books, another for philosophy.

There are a few other shelves that have just a few books, magazines that I am just starting on the subject. I use these at the upper shelves and put decrations on.

I don't bother with alphabetizing, As long as the books on the same subject are together, it's better than color coding. I did it once before, it looked great, but I was the only one that knew where everything was.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 26, 20090 found this helpful

My bookshelves 'rotate' by interest. The centre two shelves hold my current study/interest, and on those two shelves, the books may loosely be grouped by field or author. For example, I give workshops using the MBTI personality instrument, so my central shelves have the topic with the groups of (roughly) workshop materials, spirituality and personality, HR/Career, and general MBTI. Prior to this I was sorking on some history projects. When I changed fields to MBTI, I moved the History shelves to a different bookcase, keeping the same order.

What I like about this is that I can still 'browse' my collection of books, because sometimes inspiration comes from seeing something you don't expect.

One of the things I don't like about electronic library systems is that most all of them don't have a browse mode that is loose like the above. With an old-time card catalog, you look for what you want, and you browse the cards before and after it, and often you will find something else helpful, even if you did not have the 'key words' to look for it directly.

Bottom line, choose whatever organizational form you like, but if it is too tight, don't forget to browse a bit, too.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 4, 2005

I am looking for an inexpensive way to store all my daughters books. She is 2, loves books and has SO MANY! At first, I used a jumbo diaper box, but since she has accumulated more, it is overflowing and she can't see what books she has. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

this is what I did for my wee one-

Get some dowels, and 2 pieces of wood...you're making like a "towel rack" only it's for books. I wish I could show you a picture of ours.

Basically, you attach the dowels on the 2 pieces of wood (that are parrallel from one another. The books get draped over the dowels, similar to some magazine racks? Hope this helps!

ps-i just told the guy at Home Depot what I was planning to make and he drilled the holes in the 2 side pieces for me (I think it was 25c a cut?)

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

My Grandson had a plastic shelf full of books,and the weight began to bend it.I found a 3 shelf wooden bookshelf,painted it and organized the books by size.It now looks nice in his room and the plastic shelf holds movies and games. After he's through with a book he's putting them back on the shelf.Books cost too much to sling in a crate and an organized shelf teaches them to be responsible for their books.You can often find them unpainted for less than $20.It's well worth the investment,to take care of their book collection.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

Small or med crates or plastic shoe boxes are easiest for children to keep books in. Teach them to place books in spine up or standing up so they don't damage each other. Keep one box or crate out at a time, and rotate them. Another good option is a magazine rack, they have wooden ones for usually about $10-especially now around holiday giftwares.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 5, 20050 found this helpful

No tips for storage, Heather (sorry 'bout that), but I just wanted to applaud you for encouraging your daughter's reading habit. Speaking as someone who has a life-long love of books, you have helped establish something for your daughter that will give her much pleasure and learning for the rest of her life. Good for you!!

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 6, 20050 found this helpful

If you have a local freecycle group ask them for a bookcase. You can probably get on for free.

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October 6, 20050 found this helpful

I'm having the same problem, so the advice helped me too. Thank you! I'm a member of our local freecycle and it didn't even cross my mind to post on there for one. By the way, the website for freecycle is www.freecycle.org if you want to try to find you one also. I seen on www.wal-mart.com they have small bookcases for only $17.98 which isn't that bad.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 19, 20050 found this helpful

I have a 3 year old who loves to read with me as well. I have purchased plastic dishpans from the dollar store and put the books in these. Stand the books up in the pan. We have then put them either on the floor and slide them under her bed or put the pan on a bookshelf.

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July 3, 20070 found this helpful

If there are too many books for a child to chose from it can be over stimulating for them and they may quickly lose interest in the book and want to get another.

I would suggest that you have your child select about 10 books and then store all the others away, use these 10 books for a couple of weeks and then get all the books out again and let your child select 10 books for the next fortnight. You will see that the child will have a favourite book that they will chose every time.

I used to do the same basic idea with toys, I would have one big toy box that the children would fill with toys and then all the others would be stored away.

When they had a holiday break from school the first day was always spent re-organising the toy box, everything was put out on the playroom floor for the day and they would have great fun finding toys they had forgotton about and the next morning we would fill one box again and store away all the other toys. This was also an opportunity to throw away any broken toys and give away any they no longer wanted.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 14, 20070 found this helpful

I have done the same thing as u, and so now i have three -four cereal boxes, diaper box etc, and have picture labled them as fairy tale book, animal book, alphabet books, and so on... so she has learnt to sort also as she chooses to read one by one and the bins remain clean atleast for 10-12 days, after that i need to reshuffle them and tidy it a bit.Hope this is helpful to u..happy reading time.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 20, 20080 found this helpful

I had the same problem and I got two wooden crates (like the ones peaches come in), attached wheels to the bottoms, painted them and labeled them books. That way he can move the boxes easily and also easily flip through the books to choose what he wants to read. When I want to we can also roll the book boxes into the closet for a neater look. Good luck!

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 16, 20080 found this helpful

Buy plastic wash basins in different colors. Different colors for different kinds of books. Tubs slide onto book shelves very easy and neatly.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 30, 20010 found this helpful

I have lots of books (ones I use and reread) that I would like to be able to organize. How do you go about organizing your books. I have books for reference, cook books, novels, and non fiction. What is the best way to organize them, all together, alphabetically or by type?

Theresa

Answers:

Type and Subject

I organize my books first by general type: Cookbooks, etc. Then break that down into subtypes: Ethnic>Mexican (or whatever) then alphabetically by author. Same with reference or any other sort of book.. Make sure you have easiest access to those books you do use a lot. (05/31/2001)

By Alekscat the frugal feline in Richmond, VA

Organizing Books

I have lots and lots of books, in every room of the house. I organize my books in several ways. First, I put books nearest their place of use (except for most of the cookbooks which are in the dining room because I have a teeny, tiny kitchen). The reference books all go together in the hallway, the children's books are all in another hallway near their bedrooms, the DIY, gardening, mothering, household management and bird watching books are all in my bedroom and the school books are all in the school area (we homeschool). Within each area, the books are then either sorted by title or by smaller subject. The cookbooks are divided into crockpot, easy, general and food storage sections. The children's books are divided into easy readers, science, people, baby books, and animals. The reference books are divided into dictionaries, atlases, foreign language, wildlife, and encyclopedias. The gardening books are divided into flowers and vegetables. Etc.

This has worked very well for us; books are close to where they are used (generally speaking) and organized enough to make finding things quickly but not have to spend a lot of time keeping each book in its exact spot. (The children's books are the most loosely 'organized' for obvious reasons!) (05/31/2001)

By Jennifer Raffety

By Subject, Then Author

I have hundreds of books myself. What I do, is separate by topic, then place in alphabetical order by author. If I want a mystery by Patricia Cornwall, it's in the mystery section under C [this also makes it easier to check for dupes.] My cookbooks are grouped together by topics and/or types of cooking. Your standard [Betty Crocker, McCalls], special Authors [Emeril, Julia Child], type of cooking [BBQ Chinese, crockpot, Dessert, French, microwave], and the rest just in alphabetical order. I also keep the paperbacks and hardbacks separated, but grouped in the same order as above. (05/31/2001)

By KayD

Non-fiction by Subject, Fiction by Author

I have volunteered in a public library and set up two church libraries and a private school library. It would make the most sense to organize your non-fiction books by subject. You will find that when looking for a particular cookbook, you will automatically go to the cookbook section. Once they are organized by subject, the next step would be by title.

The fiction books, in a home library, would be easier to access if they were arranged by author first and then by title. However, if you have any books that are in a series, arrange them in number order. I have a lot of fiction as well as mystery books. I have all the fiction together and a separate section for mystery. I have a third section for the westerns that my husband reads. By having all of my books organized this way, I can find whatever I want very quickly without having to search. (05/31/2001)

By Betty in Oregon

Organizing Cookbooks

All Cookbooks should be in the Kitchen organized by Topic. Microwave Cookbooks should be together, Crockpot/Slow cooker books together, etc. If you want to organize them by Authors, that's fine, but not necessary.

As for the other books, I agree: Topic, then alphabetized by Authors. (11/25/2004)

By neldafairley

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