All About Bookshelf Organization

All About Bookshelf Organization

Janel Laban
May 6, 2010

I'm moving to a new apartment with a wall of built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves… a dream come true! In preparation for the big move-in day, I've taken a look back at posts that Apartment Therapy has published the subject of the organization of bookshelves. I gathered a selection of good ideas from these past posts into this one; a bit of a spring cleaning primer on getting your bookshelves in order, once and for all…

Good Ideas from : How To Arrange My Bookshelves?

• Put smaller books up top and bigger books at the bottom and keep relative sized together

• Try to cull all ragged books (esp. paperbacks)

• Leave a little bit of breathing room on each shelf - @10%

• Put your most attractive books at eye level

• Keep your books straight up and down or horizontal

• Never stack anything on top of book rows

Good Ideas from: How To Declutter Your Bookshelves

• We're doing this process a little at a time. Although it can be painful to remove books we once loved from our shelves, if we let them sit in the outbox for a couple of days we begin to realize that it's not such a huge loss.

• First we got rid of any duplicate books (we still had a few leftover from merging our collections) and any books that didn't matter to us that much. We also got rid of any large-format art books that we didn't absolutely have to keep.

• We went through our shelves and tried to take out anything we hadn't looked at in a few years.

• I sometimes write book reviews, so I have a lot of old galley copies. I weeded them all out of the shelves.

• At this point, we have about one more shelf full of books that we still need to get rid of. Every day, I scan the shelves and take out a few. By the end of next week we should be in good shape.

• Once we're all done, we'll donate the contents of our outbox.

Good Ideas from: 8 Ways to Label Your Bookshelves

• We found a website called Woodworking Parts that sells brass and nickel-plated label holders, specifically sized for shelf edges (about $8 for 10). Rockler also sells them for $3.39 per set of 2.

• You can order custom-engraved or blank metal tags in a variety of sizes from, a manufacturing company based in Houston, Texas. We called to see if they take retail orders, and they told us that they do, but they require a minimum amount of $50. You could also try your local hardware store for custom-engraved tags.

• Library supply stores are a good place to look. Demco sells clip-on, adhesive, and magnetic shelf labels. Levenger also sells sets of 6 clip-on labels for $28.

• Use chalkboard paint to make your own chalkboard labels, or try out these blackboard vinyl stickers from Etsy ($18 for a set of 16).

• Repurpose write-on metal, ceramic, or slate garden markers into shelf labels by adding removable adhesive backing.

• Cut up adhesive-backed cork sheets into the appropriate size, and stencil or stamp your tags directly onto the cork. It creates a rustic, wine-cellar-style look.

• Another way to dress up DIY labels is to stamp or stencil your tags onto Scotch paper tape.

• The Container Store sells plastic shelf labels (about $6 for 4), as well as magnetic erasable labels for metal shelves ($11 for 5).

Good Ideas from: Miranda in the comment section of How To Arrange Books

• The best way to shelve books is the standard way that libraries do it: standing up, spine facing. Laid flat is also OK, but not as good. Never ever shelve books spine-up or spine-down; the weight of the pages can mess up the binding. Make sure to dust the books every so often, keep them free of humidity, do what you can to discourage silverfish, etc.

• If you are overly concerned about visual unity on your bookshelves, there are two or three good solutions: 1) doors on the bookshelves. 2) curtains in front of the bookshelves. 3) wrap all the books in a good-quality (acid-free) paper of a single color and hand-label the spines, or choose a paper translucent enough that the title is visible through the paper.

(Images: Janel Laban/Books Are Beautiful)

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