Tag Archives: library

How to Arrange Your Personal Library


You may want to first go and read my previous post in this series, “How to Build Your Personal Library.”

OK, you’re on your way. You’ve decided on your plan. You’ve already got a nice core of 3 or more books on your favorite themes or topics. Now you are considering how you’ll place them in your library.

Good news: it’s totally up to you! You can place them in any order you like, in any arrangement you like. Remember, this is YOUR personal library.

But let me suggest some of the ways I’ve heard of others arranging their personal libraries.

TOPICALLY

Here are some recommendations to consider:

Read a good book on the subject. Many such exist. But don’t get overwhelmed. If no definitive list exists, create your own.
Define and Prepare a Space – Decide on a size, Big or Small? This depends upon the physical space available to you. And the patience of your spouse or roommate. Determine where your topics will be arranged based on their usage and accessibility. For instance: I’m an author. I read lots of books about books and publishing, and lots of books about my craft—writing. So those books are in an easily accessible place in my center bookshelf; whereas, my poetry section is higher up because I access it only occasionally.

I have a separate space/bookshelf for oversized books. And they are on the TOP shelf. I’m tall and I’d rather take them down, than to bend over and have to lift heavier, bulkier books up. I don’t have to bend at all to deal with my oversized books. (Of course, you can imagine what my wife thinks of this strategy. The fact that I am too sedentary already is just cause for her concern that I bend more, not less.)

My library is arranged in sections. My sections are:

  • History(in order chronologically from ancient forward) with 3 primary sections
    • Early American
    • New England
    • WW II
  • Travel (early, maritime—this includes books about the ocean and seas)
  • Mountaineering—I love to read about mountain climbing and have a nice collection of 5 or 6 including audio books (which I keep in another section with all my books on tape or CD.)
  • Biography and Memoir (probably my largest section. Takes up three shelves)

ALPHABEICALLY

Some folks just like to arrange their libraries alphabetically. Arranging alphabetically can be very useful. However, if you arrange them alphabetically by Title, you have no idea where to go to find a good novel to read or a work of poetry. If you arrange them alphabetically by Author, that’s better, but what if you don’t remember the author’s name? You’d have to search your whole library. If you were wise enough to place them according to subject or theme, then you might fare best of all. But I don’t like the idea of biographies being mixed in with books on boating.

I arrange alphabetically within some of my genres like biographies, memoirs, early American and British Literature and other topical sections. Chronological works best for histories and contemporary culture.

I heard of arranging by color, but that strikes me as using a library for fashion rather than reading. I could be wrong. But remember, if color is the way you want to arrange your library, it’s YOUR LIBRARY. Go for it!

One last word on the big picture–put in place some rules or guidelines you can live with and make decisions by:

The “Guidelines of Arrangement” I’ve operated under in my personal library:

Catalog all Books I have a database of my books. I happen to use a library program from Collectorz.com. I have used it for years and enjoy it immensely. I’ve heard of another one which I’d like to try, mainly because it’s cloud-based (stored on internet servers). This has several advantages. If there’s a fire, and my computer melts, I can access the database from any computer in any location. It will print a list and the cost of my library for insurance purposes. The address is: LibraryThing.com.

Collect what you enjoy. You must allow your library to evolve according to your interests and passions. Your interests have probably guided you this far. Your passions will form the core of your collection. I chose the very best three to five books in each field of interest or passion.

I have two main collections. One is my spiritual library and the other is my general library. Each library is made up of a core of several categories which are important to me. For example: I am passionate about my ministry and my walk with Jesus. Naturally the core of my ministry library is made up of several related categories: biblical studies (old and new testaments); church history; theology; and, language study. My walk with Jesus is covered under spiritual autobiography and biography along with devotional literature. These broad categories form the core of my spiritual library.

The categories of my general library are: Classic literature (poetry, novels & short stories), Biography/Memoir, Contemporary Literature (poetry, novels & short stories); Maritime topics; Writing, Faerie, History (WWII & New England); travel; western writings; and, the largest collection–Books about books–reading, bibliophilia, book collecting and selling; and, publishing.

Choose carefully. Own only the books you KNOW you care enough about to read more than once.

Read what you collect. No matter how long it takes, read your books. They will teach you and speak to you. They will inform and expand your thinking and experience.

Share what you read. Let others enjoy what you have enjoyed. Share your library. Blog or journal. Be a lender to the people in your life who you know share your love of books or your core passion. Of course, make sure that those who borrow appreciate some understanding of the care and collecting of books. For example, I usually explain to someone who borrows a book of mine that I NEVER lay the book open. I ask them to likewise use a bookmark. I then explain that the spine can be broken or the glue be cracked by laying a book open, faced down. My watchword is “generosity” in all things. And lose a book before a friend. After all . . . a book is not more important than the people in my life.

QUESTION: What is the core of your personal library? Are you working an “arrangement plan”?

Photo: Tuscarora Resource Center library by David C Alves

©2011, David C Alves

How to Build Your Personal Library


You’ve been kind of collecting books. They’re everywhere. You have shelves that will no longer hold books. So you have stacks—in the bedroom, in the living room, in the spare bedroom, in the dining room (which in our home I turned into our library). Books even grace the bathroom and a couple of closets.

Your spouse or roommate has given you an ultimatum: “You need to organize, get a plan, or get rid of all these books!”

Instead, how about building your own library . . . with intent. You CAN do it! Be like the great men and women in history who actually planned a personal library and collected books according to a modus operandi (a plan of operation)? It will be hard for even the most book-hostile person to oppose your noble plan—the plan of a personal library.

Some of you have never considered planning or arranging a library. Maybe you’ve been too busy. Or you’re not interested in the work involved. Plans don’t interest you. Then you need read no further. BUT . . . some of you love the idea of being more intentional, more organized. Perhaps like me, you’ve wondered: Well how would I go about a more intentional collection of significant books? If that’s you too, then you’re the person this post was meant for.

I’ve organized and arranged two libraries—my ministry library and my personal library. In the process, I made some mistakes and made some observations that might benefit you. Perhaps this post can be used to make your life a little easier.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONSIDER

Here are some recommendations to consider:

Read a good book on the subject. Many such exist. But don’t get overwhelmed. If no definitive list exists. Create your own.

Define and Prepare a Space – Decide on a size, Big or Small? This depends upon the physical space available to you. And the patience of your spouse. Determine where and how you will store your library. Do you have a free wall? Or spare room that you don’t use very often? What about creating a room just as a library room. That’s what I did in our dining room. We eat instead in the Kitchen/Great room.

Make sure that it’s comfortably appointed as well. Big stuffed chairs, a library table, warm lighting, favorite photos, paintings, or sculptures all make it your special place of beauty and peace.

Build Upon the Core of your Library (of what you already have). How? Answer a couple of questions:

  • What am I passionate about? The answer will give you a prime section in your collection. That’s probably what your core already consists of.
  • What would I love to learn or know more about? You’ve got your second section.
  • What has always fascinated me? You’ll need a section of good books on the subject.
  • What might give me some insight into . . . ? (people, places, ideas, occupations)
  • If you are like me, you’ll want a section just for leisure reading as well. I have a full fantasy section of hardbacks in our library room and of softcovers in my Cave (guy room). Since Marcy and I are both readers, we don’t argue much about a house full of books. We both love fantasy too so we hang out with C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, L’Engle, Charles Williams, and Lin Carter (his anthology and special collections of essays on fantasy are awesome—and impossible to find.

Begin modestly. You don’t need a ton of books of all kinds unless you’re a hoarder vs. a collector.  Locate and purchase the very best three to five books in each field of interest or passion. You might like to begin with an anthology or bibliography. This will lead you to recommended reading which comes from a variety of authors who have all weighed in on that subject. I read an autobiography of The Beach Boys’, Brain Wilson. In the back was a bibliography. From there I collected several more books including their discography (I wanted a history of their recording career along with the background history of their recordings).  Bibliographies and Recommended Readings in the back or appendices of a book often provide you with exactly what you need to build your core.

Hardback or Paperback? What is the goal for your library? How much do you have to spend? Will you read your books more than once? If not, you don’t need a library. You can borrow from the public free library. But if you plan on the long term to read them and refer to them frequently, or to dialog in the margins (write in them) then you may want to consider hardbound for the majority of your books.

Look for bargains. Most libraries cull their stacks often. You can usually find hardcovers for $1. And paperbacks for .25-.50 each. It doesn’t take long to build a library at these prices. But be selective by sticking close to your plan. Otherwise you precious space will fill up with junk that doesn’t further your goals and overall plan.

Stick to your Core plan. Once you’ve decided on a plan of collecting, stick with it! Enough said.
Adopt your own set of “Simple Rules.” Mine are below as an illustration of the point.

 

MY SIMPLE RULES

The “Simple Rules” I’ve operated under for over forty years:

Love beauty (which will include the truth and creation). Certainly a person who does not love beauty can build a library. I suppose one who values ugliness, falsehood, destruction, and banality could collect books, but who but the base and lifeless would want to read them? Or write them?

Love of beauty forms character and generosity of spirit. These will therefore affect the character of what you will collect and share. Once character is in place my other two rules apply.

Collect what you enjoy. You must allow your library to evolve according to your interests and passions. Your interests have probably guided you this far. Your passions will form the core of your collection. I chose the very best three to five books in each field of interest or passion.

I have two main collections. One is my spiritual library and the other is my general library. Each library is made up of a core of several categories which are important to me. For example: I am passionate about my ministry and my walk with Jesus. Naturally the core of my ministry library is made up of several related categories: biblical studies (old and new testaments); church history; theology; and, language study. My walk with Jesus is covered under spiritual autobiography and biography along with devotional literature. These broad categories form the core of my spiritual library.

The categories of my general library are: Classic literature (poetry, novels & short stories), Biography/Memoir, Contemporary Literature (poetry, novels & short stories); Maritime topics; Writing, Faerie, History (WWII & New England); travel; western writings; and, the largest collection–Books about books–reading, bibliophilia, book collecting and selling; and, publishing.

Choose carefully only the books you KNOW you care enough about to read.

Read what you collect. No matter how long it takes, read your books. They will teach you and speak to you. They will inform and expand your thinking and experience.

Share what you read. Let others enjoy what you have enjoyed. Share your library. First, by blogging or journaling. Then be a lender to the people in your life who you know share your love of books or your core passion. Of course, make sure that those who borrow appreciate some understanding of the care and collecting of books. For example, I usually explain to someone who borrows a book of mine that I NEVER lay the book open. I ask them to likewise use a bookmark. I then explain that the spine can be broken or the glue be cracked by laying a book open, faced down. My watchword is “generosity” in all things. And lose a book before a friend. After all . . . a book is not more important than the people in my life.

QUESTION: What is the core of your personal library? Are you working a “plan”?

Photo: Our library room by David C Alves

©2011, David C Alves

Seven Reasons I Love My Kindle


Until recently, my greatest excuse for not owning a Kindle was the cost. Then Amazon released the $139. newest generation version. Excuse one demolished. I could spend that amount in a bookstore buying four hardcover books. So my handy second excuse came to the rescue–I’d rather hold a book in my hands. I like the tactile experience and feel of a solid book, with pages and cover art. After all, I’m an author. Books are a great love of mine. This is how I remained Kindle-free for since its invention.

Recently, after seeing and being oriented to the new Kindle by a friend, and having viewed the interview with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, I decided to give it a try. I have now been an avid Kindle user for five months. And now am a Kindle advocate. I would not want to be without it. Let me give you at least seven reasons I love my Kindle.

  1. Ease of Use. The Kindle is simple to use. The point of reading is to engage with the author. Kindle removes the complexity and removes the distractions. After just a short time of learning how to navigate around, I found myself no longer thinking about the Kindle, but fully engaged with the authors. Typing out your notes is tight if you have big fingers like mine, but otherwise it’s not bad if you’re patient.
  2. Affordability. Kindle is only $139.00. Many books are free. Classics and collected works are usually free. I own a large number of free books–more than I could read in a lifetime. Other books, newer books, usually sell for around $8.99. Some are higher, some are lower. But with the money I have already saved from not having to pay the full retail or even 30% off sale price, I have already paid for my Kindle.
  3. Subscription services. I receive USA Today every morning on my Kindle. I do wish it had my local paper available, but perhaps I should visit their office here in town. AND my blogs and my wife’s blog posts appear in the menu whenever we post to our website. You can subscribe not only to magazines and newspapers, but to blogs as well. And you do so with a 14-day FREE trial. So you can test read first before you commit. Then if you like what you’re reading, blogs are 1.99/month. Some are only .99/month.
  4. Reading Experience. Screen. Fonts flexible. Background music (yes it can replay MP3’s, but very limited. It’s a reading tool and doesn’t try to complicate things). I find it easy to hold. It’s very lite. I love the screen and pages. Because it is not backlit, my eyes are very comfortable and I can read for hours. When they get tired (at night), I can enlarge the font and voila, I’m able to continue. Though perhaps having to enlarge the font should be my indicator that it’s time to GO TO BED! You can also post your notes and a photo of your book cover with just a couple of clicks. I love that feature. I have a number of readers who enjoy the comments I’ve made about the books I’m reading.
  5. Portability. I can carry several large books with me. I can carry my whole library if I want. I have over 2.5gig of space to store my books. If I had to carry in boxes all the books that I can hold on my Kindle, I’d need a Mayflower mover to come with their biggest rig. AND . . . I absolutely LOVE the feature that let’s me delete books from the Kindle to store online in my safe online Kindle library for retrieval anytime I need them again.
  6. Battery Life. The battery life is 30 days of normal reading. If you keep your wireless connection up, then life may be 7 days. Still . . . that’s GREAT! I’ve not had a battery problem yet. And my Kindle also powers the light which comes with my Kindle cover (sold separately).
  7. You can LOAN your books. The loan feature is wonderful for bibliophiles like me who don’t like my books to go out of my library. First, I’m afraid they’ll either be damaged (not everyone loves my copy of the History of Piracy the way I may). Or,  second, they don’t get returned and never find their way back home. With the loan feature, no problem. I can loan most Kindle books for a 14 day period. After the 14 days are up, they return to me AUTOMATICALLY. WOW! You’ve gotta love that bibliophiles!

If any of my seven reasons help you to get off the fence, you can find out more about Kindle at Amazon.com. I’m not an employee, nor will I earn anything by you purchasing a Kindle directly at Amazon. Don’t forget to try a 14-day FREE trial of “David’s Place,”  my blog for Kindle. I will get .99 a month for that if you like it enough to stay. But more than that, I’ll gain a new Kindle friend. If you REALLY appreciate (or hate) your new Kindle come back and let us know.

QUESTION: Do you already own a Kindle? Tell us what you think of it if you do.

©2011, David C Alves

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