Anyone reading this who doesn’t love books? I thought not! But a book can be a harsh mistress. At some point, they can become overwhelming. The deaths of my parents–bibliophiles both–made it very clear that leaving my books for someone else to deal with is probably not a good idea. So–I have been cleaning and organizing. Covid-19 has provided a perfect opportunity.
As I worked my way through the ridiculous amount of books I once owned, I used a basket. Every evening I went into the “office” and filled it up, then planted myself on the couch and made decisions. The rule was, “One basket a day.” I found books I thought were lost forever, which was a treat–and I found books of which I had multiple copies. Amazon Prime and bone-deep laziness make it easier to reorder a book than bear the frustration of searching high and low, usually unsuccessfully.
The basket idea worked out so well that I bought a more appropriate basket (well, it’s not plastic…) and started to put my Ellsworth books into it. Now my EE books live together in a portable home, along with another container for my copious Ellsworth “swag.” It is easy to find books, pick books, put books back, or add to the basket. Yay baskets!
The other secret organizational method I use is a stolen book cart. Back in the olden days, encyclopedias came to one’s home or school and filled a wooden cart with wheels. The encyclopedia company included the cart with the purchase. I taught school in Baltimore, and several old carts were sitting empty in the library. Just sitting there—empty—dusty—free? So, on a lonely Friday, I took one home. I polished it with beeswax, glued and clamped the corners, and am now the proud owner of a “found” antique. Because I can push it around, I use it to hold books, magazines, printed articles, etc. pertaining to big projects (or massive research) upon which I am working. Currently, it is filled with Special Forces histories and Walt Whitman. I push it to a particular location, load or unload it, and on I go.
I am lucky to have an entire room for my research and writing, although the books are spread throughout the house. My office is my sanctuary, and my library is in constant use. Nothing sits in one place for long, and that is how I like it. The shelved books are sort of arranged by topic. No Dewey Decimals or alphabetical order disturb their long days. The idea of placing them by height, color, or–even worse–backward in the shelf, so all one sees are the pages (just what illiterate home decorator came up with THAT one??) does not exist at my house. I don’t care if they are hardbound or not. Only the first edition classics get special treatment. The rest are written in, underlined, and dog-eared. I have a “working” library that contains maps, old envelopes, CDVs, postcards, artifacts, music on CD and vinyl, and artwork. I also have cats and coffee. Basically, it is Heaven. I am a lucky person indeed.