Seasonal Salon

Organizing Your Home Library

If you are like me, you have more books than you could possibly read in a lifetime.  Well, truth be told, you have more books than you have space for. You have books on your nightstand, books on your coffee table, books in your purse, books in the drawers, in the closet, on the floors, on the desk and in the pockets of your car.  There are books on your kitchen table, books by the fireplace, books on and under the television. There are books in the bedroom, the guest room, the kitchen, the living room, den and don’t forget the garage. You even have books hidden in your son’s room because he actually has some unused drawer space.  (ok, maybe you don’t have the last one, but I do).

So, what genre of books do you have?  Fiction, non-fiction, mystery, scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, witchy books, spell books, tarot books, cookbooks from Foods of the Bible to American Vegetarian.  You might have books on self help, past lives, crystals, oils, healing, and candle magick. There could be books on goddesses, the Celts, women, the Irish, pagans, or even famous people in Indiana (my dad’s family is from Indiana).  Then there are biographies, autobiographies, children’s books, reference books, and your large collection of Doctor Who books. (Again, maybe that is just me).

Then, of course, you have old books, new books, used books, well read books and ones you didn’t care for. Coffee table books, art books, very large and very small books.  Don’t forget your collection of Martha Stewart, Threads and Sage Woman magazines. You have books of every shape, size, color and form to clutter your scholarly domain.

If, again, you are like me, you probably have forgotten about owning more books than you have actually read.  Or, you end up purchasing the same book more than once because, well, it looks good and you don’t remember reading it.    So what is an organized witch to do?

As an ex-librarian, current teacher and book hoarder Jeannie, do you really NEED another book?  Yes, it’s used and only $3.00. But we have no place to put it. It’s ok, we don’t have any place to put the other 300 books I already own.  One more won’t matter, I am here to help you organize your home library.

No I am not talking about learning the Dewey Decimal System, or how to figure out how the Library of Congress sorts out their collection.  I am talking about taking some practical steps to organization.

Step #1:   What stays and what goes?  Reevaluate your collection and see what you have.   Consider the condition of the books. Are they in good shape or are they damaged?  Can you repair them or replace a favorite damaged book for a newer copy? Did you really like the book?  Will you reread it? Is it a classic or reference book? Do you have multiple copies of a book? Consider donating unwanted books to the library bookstore, retirement homes, or for trade or credit at a used book store. The latter gives you an opportunity to get more books. Once you have decided on the books that you must keep (which will still be a large number of books), then continue to Step 2.

Step #2:   Sort your books.  This is the most difficult step and will take the most amount of time.   How do you sort them? That is a personal preference but consider a system that makes sense to you.   Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Sort by theme/genre:  From personal experience, this can get a little tricky when some books fall into two categories.   For example your crystals or oils books. Would you sort it under “magick” or “healing”?  The best way to decide is if you go looking for it what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Or, choose one and simply remember that it can be under two categories.
  2. Sort by Author:  This can be great for fiction, but difficult if you have a growing, itchy rash and need to find that book on herbal remedies now and you don’t remember the author’s last name.  
  3. Sort by color or size:  If you would like to display your books by the colors of the rainbow, this is great if you are going for aesthetic value and you don’t really read the books.  But, again, if you are actively using all of your books, it could be a problem….. Remember that rash?

Once you have decided how to sort them and they are sorted into your nice little (or large) piles, continue to Step 3.

Step #3:  Location, location, location:  Where are you going to put all of those neatly sorted books?  Common sense dictates that you put them where you will most use them.  Cookbooks in the kitchen, art and travel books on the coffee table in the living room, magick books in or near your altar space, fiction in a guest room.

But do you have bookshelves in all of those places? Often used cookbooks should be in the kitchen. If you don’t have shelves, see if you have some cupboard space that you can use.  Depending on your guests, living room tables are good for art and travel books, maybe some biographies or the classics. Aunt Edna might approve of Wuthering Heights,but question your book on 1001 Ways to Curse Your Neighbor.  Be mindful of the books you display especially if you are not out of the closet with your friends and family. Which, by the way, is a good place to store your little used books.

Speaking of displaying books, rotate them on occasion.  Don’t be like the doctor’s office with magazines from 1989 and two inches of dust. Show off a few books at a time and then rotate them out occasionally. Maybe display seasonal books, or a variety of artists. This might be a good time to pull out your orange books in October, reds in February or even slip in your book on Yule with your Christmas around the World book.  Personally, I keep my craft and magick books in my spare room where I craft and have my magical altar. I store my collection of Doctor Who in a safe container because I don’t read them often but I want to keep them. I have my children’s books displayed in a bedroom and a variety of books on a shelf above the television. I do read often and I read many different books at a time, so I keep several books by my bed and a few next to the couch as well as a few in the car, just in case.   

Step #4:  Shelve your books:   Pretty self-explanatory.   More back breaking than thought provoking but it’s got to get done.  The books are all over your living room floor. When finished, grab a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) and relax before moving onto Step #5.

Step #5:  Caring for your books:   Now that you have had a good look at all of your books, this is the time to give them some love if they need it.  Maybe a soft cover is torn, or the spine is broken or you simply want to ensure your favorite (and/or expensive) book does not get damaged or is protected from any more damage.  Tape up that page or cover, put a little glue in the spine to hold it together, or invest in some clear book covers to protect your book. and Pinterest are great resources to check out how best to repair and care for your books so that you have many more years to love them.  

Step #6:  Cataloging:  Hopefully, you have not had too much of the drink and you can continue on to cataloging your books.  Why? Because you do not need three copies of Love Spells for Dummies. (And, no, I do not own that. I made it up.) Hopefully you dealt with multiple copies of the same book in Step #1.   There are probably several cataloging programs and websites out there, but here are a few to check out:

Library Thing: This is partly a book cataloging system and partly a social networking tool.  You can organize and share your personal library and if you want, connect to others with similar interests.  It is connected to the Library of Congress, Amazon and other libraries to get information you may need. The price is free for the first 200 books (who has only 200 books??)  $10 per year or $25 lifetime fee.

Delicious Library 3:  Again a cataloging system for your library of books but also movies and cds.  You simply type in the ISBN number or drag and drop from Amazon to input. You can try for free then the price is $39 if you wish to purchase.   

And my personal favorite is GoodReads. This is a free cataloging system that I use as an app on my phone as well as the computer.   I cataloged what I have read, what I want to read and what I am currently reading.

All of these resources are beneficial for keeping track of your library.  It is a matter of which works best for you.

Step #7: Loaning out your books:  If putting a fancy name plate in your 200+ books is a bit much for you, consider investing in a rubber stamp with your name.  If you plan on loaning out books often, consider a system to keep track. Keep a log of books loaned and persons who it was loaned to.  Get several paint sticks from the hardware store, paint them a cute color and glue a small envelope to it. Have person put their name and book title on a 3x5 card and slip the stick in where the book was kept.   Use a system that will work for you.

Lastly Step #8:  Enjoy your Library:   Go grab yourself another cup of tea (or the bottle of wine), your favorite snuggly blanket, a big overstuffed chair, your latest book and be proud of a job well done.

As side story here, I recently redid the flooring in my home.  Because of that project, my books ended up in several boxes in the garage. We purchased bookshelves on Offer Up and got a great deal on 4 sets of bookcases for $100.  We put three in the computer room and I took one to my guest room, which is my womb room. As I organized my own books (and my husband asked if I was following my own procedures), I found that I did have several of the same books, books I could get rid of and yes, I had even found my Empowerment book that I didn’t know I hour after I had ordered it on Amazon. (Quick! cancel order!!)   Now that I have shelved most of my books, I find that I have a lot of space left for more books. I am a happy girl.

Here is a practice activity.  Get slips of papers with 20 book titles on them. Organize them any way you choose. There is no wrong way.   Some might be a little tricky.   Have fun.


Jeannie Pavey aka Magickal Mermaid is a 2nd grade teacher living in the desert.  She is a pagan and a goddess priestess.  She loves reading, sewing, gardening and wants to someday grow up to be a full time healer. 

Category: Fall Equinox 2018