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How To Get Rid Of Book Clutter

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Today's mission is to get rid of your book clutter. Normally I have these as fifteen minute missions but this is one where, depending on the number of books in your home, it might be better to think of it as breaking it down into multiple 15 minute missions.

I've devoted several days on the declutter calendar to do this task. So no worries, it isn't like you're expected to get it all done today.

Instead it's kind of like the declutter paper piles mission. You just keep attacking it, in 15 minute increments, until it is done. :)

Did You Learn Today's Mission And Say "NOOOOOOO! I Love My Books"? If So, Read This

Organize Books Challenge
This Declutter 365 mission is designed to be done during the Organize Books Challenge here on the site, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.

That makes sense because the first step in organizing your books is, as always, to declutter the ones you do not need, want, or have room for.

But I know for many people that even the thought of decluttering books causes anxiety. There is a special relationship between people and their books, and I definitely don't want to diminish that emotional connection.

In fact, I completely understand it. I've already confessed on other pages of this site that books are one of my weaknesses. I love to read, and I love to have reference materials on hand.

I also completely understand the enjoyment of actually holding a book in my hands, feeling the paper under my fingertips, smelling that book smell.

Not that I don't also have ebooks and Kindle books (and yes, we'll deal with those digital books later this week!) but there is something special, in my opinion, about physical books.

So I hope seeing that I'm a kindred soul will help you read the rest of these "how to" instructions with an open mind and heart. You're on a journey to declutter your home and get it organized, and eventually you'll need to tackle this area.

So take a deep breath and read my advice, and the 5 questions to ask yourself when you take on the declutter books mission.

If I had to sum it up though, it
is that books are meant to be read, not just collect dust. So if you don't read them and plan to read them, you need to let the go to someone who will read them.

The Process For Sorting & Purging Books

To do this mission first get your supplies ready. In this case those supplies are pretty simple. It is one (or more) boxes to hold the books you decide you want to declutter from your home.

Remember, books are heavy, so I suggest smaller boxes so you can actually pick them up without killing your back once they're full. I have found banker boxes, with handles, are great for this purpose if you've got them available.

You will be sorting books into several categories -- keep, and purge, and purge could be separated into books you want to donate versus those you want to sell. (Also, if you come across books you borrowed, you may want a stack for those that need to be returned to their rightful owner.)

For each of your books you will be asking yourself 5 questions, which I've listed below in the next section.

Please be aware that sometimes you need an initial purge, and then a few more rounds of sorting to get it winnowed down to the number of books you'll keep.

It is up to you to decide, now, before you begin, how many books you'll keep, at a maximum. I wouldn't limit yourself to a minimum though.

Instead of counting the number of books though it is really easier to think of it in terms of how much space you can devote in your home to books. For example, it may be that you limit yourself to as many books as you can fit on one or two bookshelves.

If after one purge you still have too many books to fit into this space you know you need to keep decluttering further, until you can fit everything onto those shelves.

Once you're ready to begin the actual decluttering process, see the five questions below that you should ask yourself.

Oh, and I've got a special article all about how to declutter cookbooks that you can read if that is your type of book collection.

Top photo courtesy of Saltygal

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5 Questions To Ask Yourself When Decluttering Books

5 questions to ask yourself when you declutter booksuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

When you do this mission ask yourself these 5 question about each of the books you own. After first, you may find that this takes a while, but quickly you'll find your groove and can focus on the right question for each book and make decisions more quickly.

Question 1: Is This A Duplicate?

You only need, at the most, one copy of each book, so if you've got multiples these are no-brainers to declutter.

This goes for ebooks and Kindle books as well. If you've got an electronic copy you don't need to keep the paper version too, or vice-versa. Choose one or the other.

This also applies to things like dictionaries, for example, where they may not be the exact same dictionary, but if you've got multiples just keep the best one and the rest should be out of there!

Question 2: Is The Material In The Book Out Of Date, Or Still Current & Relevant?

This mainly applies to reference books, but also political and economics types of books. It also refers to old school textbooks.

No one needs to keep an atlas that is 30 years old and no longer accurately reflects the names of countries or other places, for example.

Similarly, the book about predictions for the presidential race which happened 20 years ago is not going to be very helpful anymore, or relevant.

Question 3: Have I Read This Before & Will I Read It Again?

This question can really be broken down into two parts, so I'll address each one separately.

Books You've Never Ever Read

If you've got books in your home that you have NEVER read, why are you keeping them?

Sure, it is OK to have a small number of books in your "planning to read for the first time category," as long as you actually are planning to read them. I mean, specifically, that you have plans to read them. Not a "one day when I'm not so busy" kind of plans, but plans like, "I am reading this book next, and then that one, and then I will read this one, and I've given myself a deadline."

However, if a book has languished on your bookshelf for years just gathering dust and you've had no actual inclination to read it by now, why is there? Perhaps it was a gift someone said you'd absolutely love, but it just didn't interest you, or you were at one point totally fascinated with a particular genre of book but that interest passed, and has not returned, before you even cracked the cover on one of them. Those are the types of books to get rid of from this category.

Books You've Read Once -- Will You Actually Read Them Again?

Then, there are the books you've read already. The question for those types of books is, are you going to read it again?

You've got to get this idea out of your mind that books show your intelligence, or that they make you look cool, or whatever status you feel like a book might give to you. Because really, ultimately, books are meant to be read.

If you have no desire to read a book again, out it should go. I mean, who wants to read a mystery again when you already know the plot twist at the end?

Then, be careful with yourself for the books you read once and think, one day I'll read that again. It is a slippery slope to just keeping every book if you're not careful, because "one day" is really not specific enough. Be realistic with your answer to this question.

I'll give you another question below (question 5) that can help you if you feel like you're headed down this slippery slope with this issue.

Question 4: Why Do I Want To Keep This Book?

If you've gotten all the way down to this question with a book, and haven't decided to part with it yet, you need to figure out what your motivation is for keeping it.

Because I'm not advocating getting rid of all your books I realize there are legitimate reasons to keep one, but you want to make sure you have one. :)

Don't Keep Books To Convey A Certain Status

I mentioned already that people keep books for lots of reasons. To the extent that keeping certain books around, such as classics, is about maintaining a certain perception or status you're trying to convey to others, please don't. You are special and smart and worth it whether you've got the books to prove it or not!

If you love the classics, and reread them all the time, by all means definitely keep them. But don't keep the classics which you detested reading in high school and haven't even considered cracking open to read, ever, since then, just because it looks good on your shelf.

Be Realistic About Your Books Real Monetary Value

Other possible emotional reasons someone might want to keep a book include that it is sentimental, and/or that it has a perceived financial value.

It is simple in this day and age to figure out if your book is actually worth something or not. There are all kinds of apps available that allow you to scan the ISBN number of the book and it will tell you exactly how much the book is worth.

I've used some of these apps. The monetary amounts are typically disheartening. That's because we tend to overestimate how much our books our worth, from a strictly cash money basis, because we paid so much more for them than they are worth now, used.

So using one of these apps can be eye opening, and help you just let go of book clutter if it is the perceived worth of these books that is holding you back.

Rare books are rare for a reason. There are not many first edition signed copies of things, for example, so likelihood is you don't have many of them. Not to say you should declutter any you do have. My point is just that you can keep the very few rare or high monetary value books you do have since you'll be getting rid of all the book clutter and have room for these very few books now!

Be Careful You're Keeping Books For The Right Sentimental Reasons

On the other hand, if we feel like no amount of money can replace the book, it is most likely because we're feeling sentimental about it.

The thing is, make sure the sentimentality is in the right place. There are books that are life changing, that you read over and over, and you feel like the characters are family members. Keep those books if you've got room for them!!!

Then, there is sentimentality that is more about the context in which you read the book, not the actual book itself. This is where the danger of sentimentality lies.

For example, do you remember reading that book in high school, a really great time in your life? When you look at the book you feel nostalgic for that time period.

But that isn't about the actual book. That is the context in which you used the item. Be careful, and ask yourself the question now about the actual book. Think about it -- did you enjoy the actual book, or did you actually detest reading the book and now don't even remember the plot very well?

In that situation get rid of the book. You're sentimental about something the book represents, and it is time to let the book go without losing the memories. Why? because books are meant to be read, not be dust collectors.

Question 5: Could I Get This Book At The Library To Read Again?

Finally, the last question to ask yourself is whether you could actually read this book again if you really needed to or wanted to, without it actually staying in your home.

If the book is out of print, or hard to find, well, that is a consideration for keeping it. (You still don't have to, but it makes more rational sense to keep it then if it passed the cut with all the other questions.)

But if there are 4 copies at the library, and you have yet to reread your copy in the last several years despite your vague recollection that you enjoyed it and feel like eventually you'd like to reread it, let it go. If you do want to read it later you can easily get it, then, and not dust it for years to come in the mean time!

I know getting rid of book clutter can be daunting, so to inspire you, below I've shown some photos sent in by readers who've already taken on this mission to get you ready to do it yourself!

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Results From Some Of Those Who've Already Done This Mission

How to #declutter books from your home, including 5 questions to ask yourself {on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Declutter365 #Declutteringuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

As I've already acknowledged, decluttering books can be tough, so here are several photos, sent in by readers, who've already done the mission to help you get inspired to tackle this task yourself.

The four photos in the collage above were all sent in by a reader, Amber. She said, "I found two more boxes of books to go through! Hi my name is Amber, and I am a bookaholic..." And later stated, "We are bit of bookworms! And these all don't even include kids books (except novels)."

Great job Amber!

How to get rid of book #clutter in your home, including 5 questions to ask yourself when #decluttering {on Home Storage Solutions 101} #BookClutteruse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

This photo is from Jenny, who said when she sent in the photo, "And the pile of books. I mean who really needs 4 dictionaries???"

Decluttered books from a reader, Glynne, when she did the #Declutter365 mission to remove book clutter {on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Decluttering #DeclutterBooksuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Finally, this last photo is from Glynne, who got rid of quite a lot of books as part of doing this mission! Way to go Glynne!

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What To Do With Decluttered Books

Once you've decided which of your books to part with, you are probably wondering what to do with them.

I've got ideas!

As I mentioned above, you can sell some of them, such as at garage or yard sales, or to used book stores, for example. Read my article about the top places to sell books for cash here for more ideas.

top 10 places to sell books for cash

In addition, you can donate your books. I personally favor this method, at least for books that aren't very valuable, so that I can just drop them off and get them into the hands of someone who will appreciate and read them.

If you don't know where to donate your books please check out my article of the top places to donate used books for ideas.

Top 13 places to donate used books

In addition, send me your photos once you've done this mission, so I can help you celebrate lightening your bookshelves. You can submit them here. The best photos will be featured here on the site.

A special thanks to a reader, Cindie, who sent in her photo, above, of a box of here decluttered books. She said, "Out the door!" Yay Cindie, great job!

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

Further, if you've decided after dealing with your physical book clutter that you'd rather go digital, I can't blame you. Here's an idea for you:

Kindle Unlimited Subscription: Lots To Read Without The Physical Or Digital Clutter

The Kindle Unlimited subscription service is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading a lot, wants to save money while maintaining their reading habit, and wants less physical book clutter, as well as less digital clutter.

Oh, and did I mention that selected audiobooks and magazines are also included within Kindle Unlimited as well?

Check out my Kindle Unlimited review here.

How Kindle Unlimited is perfect for avid readers who don't want to accumuulate clutter

How to declutter books, including 5 questions to ask yourself when getting rid of book clutter, and lots of before and after photos from readers who've already done this mission to get you inspired {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101} #BookClutter #DeclutterBooksuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

How To Declutter Cookbooks

Go From How To Get Rid Of Book Clutter To Home Page

Comments for What To Do With Decluttered Books

Click here to add your own comments

I keep lists of what I've read and what I plan to read
by: Anonymous

I was interested in what you had to say re decluttering books, as I did this only yesterday. I keep a record of the books I read, mainly because I have discovered I have read 3 books twice, and didn't remember!!! So with the list I read 40 books last year in operation it is easy. I read them, and I get rid of them. I have a stall at the local market so they go on the shelf for somebody else to enjoy. BUT yesterday I discovered I actually had doubled up on a few! So I have listed what I have read and what is waiting to be read, so that when I go to a book sale or market I don't have to wonder what is at home!! It was quite exciting for me to do, and now have to do the recipe books!!!

my test for what books to buy (or keep) - 40 page test
by: Anonymous

This test was presented to me a long time ago and often helps me decide if I want to purchase a book or not; but it can help decided whether a book is worth keeping or not.

Here it is.....The 40 Page Test

Read page 40 of the book and see if you are interested with what is going on. By page 40 the characters should be developed and the plot well on its way, but not too far in to give away the ending. If it has you interested it may be worth buying/keeping to read later.

Libraries eventually declutter their books too
by: Debbie

In decluttering it is frequently recommended to get rid of your personal copy and read the library's. Just so everyone knows the library declutters also. Books that are outdated, dust collectors, damaged, old looking are weeded out. Because of tax laws publishers keep inventories small and will only reprint when demand dictates. Just something to keep in mind while decluttering those special books. Yes, you may be able to find used, but some books go up dramatically in price.

6. Another use for the book
by: Anonymous

Do you have an art or mixed media project you can use the book for?

Books to cull
by: Anonymous

I read by topic. Recently I read about 15 books about different religions in the world. I needed to get rid of some. The branch library near me had their funding drastically cut and I gave all my religion books. They were delighted because they only had 3 religion books in their collection.

Donating Books
by: K.S.

My mother had a bookcase full of mass-market hardcover books. Our helpers packed them up for us and took them to add to her church's library. They were most appreciated.

Out of print books
by: Anonymous

The only problem with decluttering books that are available at the library is that at some time they do get rid of books too. If there is a particular older book that you enjoy the day will come when it may not be available at the library. I know because it has happened to me. Luckily most used books can be bought online, but sometimes at a hefty price.

purging books
by: Anam Cara

This is extremely hard to do. But I would like to suggest a caveat to the last question: can I get it from the library if I want to read it again later. Library inventories change. They also can't keep everything! If you really like it, hold on to it. It might not be there next time you want it.

I am guilty of having several copies of some books because I loan them to people and then don't get them back. There is a non-fiction book I would currently like to loan to someone, but I only have one copy as the other has "disappeared." I have thought about buying another, but it is out of print and the available copies are over $50. So I just try to share what is in the book rather than the book itself.

Extra copies
by: Anonymous

Alright. 2nd copies: I no longer lend or share any book that I really care about unless I have a second copy. If you love a book enough to share it, then keep a copy for yourself or to share with others. Personally, I keep 3 or 4 so that I can share without worrying whether I will be able to enjoy it again in the future. I like to share, and one of my favorites went from Las Vegas, to New York, to Norway, to France, Africa before we lost track. If you truly love a book, and wish to both keep and share, extra copies are not a waste, they are essential!

What a find!
by: Patricia

I planned to declutter books today, and this article appeared on Pinterest.

I am moving from a large house to a small apartment. I currently have fourteen book cases full. I found a used book store that is coming tomorrow to determine if they want to buy any. Therefore, decluttering today is a must.

I will use these five points as I pick and choose. I am allowing myself to keep three to four book cases. That means ten must go.

It was comforting to read your comments about books and reading. They could have come out of my mouth, word for word. I fear we are a dying breed, but until then...

Another idea to ask yourself
by: Jean Ann

Here's another question to ask yourself when considering how to declutter books in your house: Can I get it on my iPad (tablet, Kindle, even my iPhone...) to read as I want? I have reduced book clutter tremendously by relying on my iPad. If it is fiction, I order it from iBooks and have it in my purse, immediately available whenever I find I have a few minutes.

While it is true that libraries can't keep every book because they have to make room for new books, books online can literally be available forever! Google has an entire department dedicated to putting every book ever written on line, including ancient texts and joke books, and I bet the book you want is already available.

I was the original book-lover, not only happily reading several books at a time, but already stacking up books I wanted to read next. Every cabinet, bookcase, drawer and surface had books on or in it - books I'd read, books I was reading and books I was going to read. I am amazed how easily I transferred that love to my books online because of the ease of having my books with me whenever I have my phone. Try it!

I'm not going to kid you - that doesn't mean I now have lots of empty shelves because of this. I think of it as just having more room for my craft supplies, but that's another story...

Old deceased family books
by: Becky

What do I do with a voracious amount of books that belonged to now deceased family members?

Old and out of date books
by: Anonymous

That won't work if like me you are also fascinated by history and the slice of the past that can be experienced by reading a book out of time. For example, I have a book about manners from several decades ago and it is quite interesting to note the societal changes reflected in rules of politeness. Also, I love to re-read my yellow-back Nancy Drews from the 70s and then read the same title in the blue cover of the 30s (when I can get my hands on them) because they are quite different.

Conclusion: I'm on a declutter my whole house warpath, but my books will be the last to go!

Getting rid of books
by: Anonymous

I have a lot of books that are: To Go To When Needed books. They are books about things to do or use when you have a medical problem like colds or headaches or other small problems and I have a lot of books on organizing and getting rid of clutter books. It is hard to decided which ones I should get rid of and which ones to keep.

Too difficult
by: Anonymous

I love books. I love the artwork in many books. I bid and buy old magazines because I love the advertisements. I can't purge anything!

by: Anonymous

I ask my local grocery store if I can have the half boxes that their can goods sit in on the shelf. Just the already empty ones. They're great for holding paperback books and easy to stack or display for a yard sale. They hold about 20 paperbacks more or less depending on the thickness of the book. If deep enough, they'll even hold the hardcover books.

Use your books to make genealogy breadcrumbs
by: Annalee

As a book lover and genealogy researcher, I can't tell you how many times I have opened an old book, found a name or two and gone off on a 'research' mission that lead me to return a book to a family 70-80 years later when no mementos remain. So, think about putting your full name in every book you read (maiden names too) the date and city/state... then pass it on asking the next person to do the same. Viola! A genealogy record is created and somewhere down the road a surprise for your ancestors that helps tell the story of who you were and what you read.

Donate versus Swap
by: Anonymous

When I purge my books, instead of donating I swap my books. I share my swap sites with my daughter and as I get credits for my books when I mail them out, she can use the credits for herself, I can use them for myself or friends or I can donate the creates to charity organizations. The sites I have consistently used are BookMooch and Paperbackswap.

It’s a good way to feel good about moving books out of your house.

re-reading books
by: Lois

I re-read my favorite authors many times. On the inside paper page (right hand side) I post how many times I have read the book and the month and date) 3(12/1998), I know if 2 plus years have passed, I will enjoy it again. AND, I do!! I do not lend my favorite books. Had to purchase them again too many times. Under the date, I also put when I read it again 4(2003). My daughter exclaimed, "wow, mom, you have read this book a lot!".

Extra book shelves
by: Barbie

I use DVD shelving to put up above doors - usually wasted space - to house small books i.e. paperback fiction.

What I Did
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for this post. With this method, I got rid of over 80 books. My personal organization system goes like this.

Fiction Non-Fiction
Series Not Series Topic
Alphabetical(title) Alphabetical(title) Chronological

Old Maps
by: Anonymous

Actually old maps/atlas' are essential for anyone doing family history research or local history. Not only do these people need atlas's 30 years out of date they also need maps 50, 100, 200 years out of date.

Sharing books with others
by: Anonymous

I know it isn't on this week's list, but I was ready to go through five large shelves of books and bric-a-brac. Got rid of 38 books and took them to the library book store. The library gets first pick and the rest are shelved in the friends of the library store. These books were the status (coffee table) books, out of date information books, and duplicates (3 out of four dictionaries). I have an idea I will get rid of more when you say it is time to go through books.

Books I want
by: Joyce

I have about 600 books in my small house, not counting the 100 coloring books and art instruction. I have rid myself of small amounts to get to this amount by checking the library, reading some and giving away ones I decided I didn’t want. My numbers are accurate because I wrote all the titles and authors in a notebook. At least 3 times I have gone through the entire collection one by one, and each one made me feel I wanted to read it right then and there. As I am a 67 year old slow reader, with limited space, I do not know if I will get through a good part of them. What I have said and have done is given away about 80 percent of every book. A lot of the books are not in the library and if they are in a book store, I do not have the income to rebuy them. I am unsure what to do. Thank you for reading this.

Book declutter
by: Anonymous

When I retired 4 years ago, declutter and downsize was on my agenda. I have given away many things that stores like Goodwill will take--and I'm sure I still have a lot more they will accept. Over the years, I have gotten rid of a LOT of books, the trouble was finding places to take them. 25 years ago, I had a large number of Reader's Digest Condensed books from my Grandmother and Mother, in addition to my own. No one wanted them (school, library) but finally the VFW took them for VA hospitals and nursing homes. I still have a lot of books, but am still organizing and needing to get my bookcases up (have to declutter a lot of other stuff to make room) and I'm sure I will find more to give away.

So many kindred spirits!
by: Antigone

My husband and I have about 2000 volumes between us, and this is after some decluttering I did a year ago. I’ve culled the current events kind of titles, novels I didn’t like, and unsatisfactory reference books. There is a bit more to do for this collection to be tidy.

There are clearly many devoted book lovers out there! It is clear that I could jettison all my books, rely on my very excellent local public library and electronic copies, and embrace radical minimalism. But what no one has touched on yet is the fact that it is delightful to walk into your own well curated library and just look around! I like what those books remind me of. The emotional tone of my library is just different for their physical presence. Having them right there is a comfort—a bare room with a tablet would be no kind of substitute. I Just happen to love living with them!

Can't help it!
by: Anonymous

Academic, teacher and artist = books, notes, journals and clutter. They are all interlinked, all speak to each other. Cross-referencing is the name of the game. I started collecting when I was 14 - 45 years ago. They are my life, cannot let them go. That would feel like a lobotomy. I do get rid of errors of judgement very rapidly - the poorly written, or nonsense self-help books hit the bin as soon as I regain my good sense. The rest stay. Can't help it!

Selfish co-worker
by: Anonymous

I was taking popular books to work to share with co-workers, only to discover one selfish co-worker took them and sold them on Facebook! So rude!

by: Alison

It was a great relief to read these comments and realize that many other book lovers have the same attachments that I have for my books. Most are nonfiction and my justifications include using them to write my own fiction. Each one sparks not necessarily joy (thank you Marie Kondo) but a world of imagination for me. Each is a starting place. But I’m tripping over them, and have to get realistic about paring back. Courage to all who are deaccessioning! My heart is with you. And I’m writing an adventure novel about decluttering.

Cozy Mysteries Reread
by: Karen

I understand not keeping a book you didn’t enjoy or which doesn’t interest you anymore, but many books can be reread multiple times. I have reread most of my cozy mysteries, of which I have many, several times. It’s not so much about the mystery plot but about the cozy feelings they engender.

Libraries less reliable today
by: Flo

I would add a caution about relying on libraries today. They turn books over so quickly to make room for the hordes of new stuff published every month that you may want to keep books you really love as you may not be able to find them when you go back next year. Our library purged most of the Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey English mysteries last year. I was very sad. Someone did not return book 3 of the Sharing Knife series and it was not replaced. Those are books I have reread more than once and will continue to do so.

As an aside, you may have more value on your shelves than you think if you used to frequent library book sales--even library copies of old YA books can have a decent price on alibris and other used book sites--IF someone else is looking for a title that you are discarding! (I do wish I had splurged on the biography of Margo Benary-Isbert I saw offered a few years ago, but $85 was a bit steep at that time.)

We are admitted bibliophiles and definitely have problems getting rid of books, but I did donate a 40 year old set of Worldbook encyclopedias last fall and told them not to even hint what they would do with them. Do not look for the perfect place to donate. If you need the space more, just donate wherever they accept them. If that is too hard, hand them to friends who have no attachment to them and never ask about those books again. You must be willing to do the same for them, though!

why keep old reference books?
by: Anam Cara

The article said, "No one needs to keep an atlas that is 30 years old and no longer accurately reflects the names of countries or other places, for example."

The reason to keep those (and I have atlases from before WWI) is exactly the reason that modern atlases will not give you the names of places at a given point in time. When reading a history, it is good to know where Rhodesia was as you will not find it on a modern map. After WWI many countries were rename/consumed by others/ became independent. It is vital to understanding things like the war in the Balkans to have old maps!

IF you study history, you need to know where the places are that you are studying. Modern maps will not help you understand border disputes if the countries aren't on the map you are using.

Keep your atlases!

Library Thing
by: Diana

Before we made a cross country move, I got rid of over 100 books. The ones I thought I might want to read again I cataloged on the website by entering their ISBN numbers. That was in 2017. It’s nearly 2022 now and I’ve never re-acquired or re-read ANY of them once. Just having a record of them seemed to help me let them go!

special advice for signed first editions
by: Barbara

First editions, especially signed copies, are valuable. If you want to get rid of those please find a book dealer to either give or sell to them. Someone else may treasure that book that has been signed by the author.

The guide was just what I needed
by: Anonymous

The guide was just what I needed. Especially in the "have I read it/ will I read it/ is information still relevant or updated?" I was able to purge a number of books by answering those questions honestly. Thank you.

Where to dispose of books?
by: SDee Pat

I am so ready to do this! I know it is late in the day, but I am going to get my 15 minutes in! Question, where do I dispose of books or should they all be recyclable? Our normal garbage service will not take boxes of books.

Academic libraries
by: Daryl

Many of the comments here, e.g., old atlases, etc., are useful for those of us who have academic libraries.

Here's another example: I have five copies of Plato's Republic; all different translations that are important for comparing specific passages. I'm certainly not going to purge all but one translation.

Finding a specific translation in a public library is a crap shoot and a huge waste of time when I already have it at my fingertips. Academic libraries that are inadequately funded are now weeding their collections based on the availability of a given title at larger institutions in the consortium. This makes borrowing a given volume slow and cumbersome. So, if I have the book, I'm not going to weed it from my collection.

The bottom line is that most of the tips here are not very helpful for weeding the academic home library.

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