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How to create a personal library

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how to create a personal library
Since the invention of writing thousands of years ago, tablets, scrolls, books, and related items have been used to collect knowledge for posterity. Having your own library of a few hundred books is not just a symbol of status, but a pure pleasure only a true book lover can understand.

You don't have to be book lover in order to create your own library, however. It is a simple methodical process to set up, organize, and maintain a personal library.


Get started creating a library

Decide what type of books you want

The first step in creating a personal library is deciding what you books you want. Will it be collection of classical literature, or collection of books related to your hobbies or field of interest, business, or work? Begin by making a list of subjects which are of interest to you. You can always add to it later.

Set your budget

Creating a library takes money, sometimes a lot of money. Your budget will go toward:

As a private collector, you only need to set a monthly budget for your new acquisitions, repairs, and storage. Decide how much you can spend each month on each part of this project, and stick to it.

Make a list of your current books

If you already have a sizable collection, it's just a matter of deciding what if anything you are keeping from the existing books, then recording that list in a ledger. I find that a simple notebook or spreadsheet works well.

Tip: Any books you no longer want should be swapped, sold, or otherwise passed along as soon as possible.

Make a list of books to acquire

There are probably obvious holes in what you have. Make a list of what might be needed to fill those gaps, then go shopping. That means buying books, yes, but also swapping and trading for what you want. The thrift store might have a copy of that rare woodcarving book. Library sales might have something useful. Look in unexpected places for new books.

Set up your library

Once you have your initial book stash ready, you need a place to set up. A bookcase is traditional, but consider alternatives such as converting a linen closet or cupboard for book storage, or use a free-standing cabinet. Old china cabinets work a treat if you have one handy. The important features are enough shelves for your books and if possible a way to reduce exposure to anything that might damage the books.

Decide how you want to sort your books -- what is the best way to find the book you need with the least amount of searching? Do you sort by author? Do you sort by subject? Do you sort by author, then sub-sort by subject? If you like fiction, sorting by series can be a good option.

Tip: Don't be trendy. If you sort your books by colour, you will never find what you need when you need it.

Library maintenance

Once you have your books in their places, it becomes a simple matter of maintenance. Acquire new books once in a while, then add more storage for those books. Cull the herd if a particular subject needs it. (It's okay to let them go to new homes, honest.)

In addition, if a book becomes damaged, repair it.

What might damage a book?

Avoid direct sunlight

This will dry the paper and bleach the covers. If you want a book to devalue quickly, long exposure to direct sunlight will do the trick. Also, the paper will lose all of its moisture, thus becoming brittle. Once it does, the paper will tear with ease and that is not something any book lover would want to have happen to the books in their personal library. Cloth will rip and leather will crack.

Avoid water

Forget about storing books in a dark, moist place. Mold will eat through the paper and leather. You will have to deal with decomposing paper and an unpleasant smell. No one likes musty old books.

Avoid chemicals

If you tend to clean with detergents, it is best to keep the cleaning or cleaners away from the books. Paper absorbs liquids easily. The effects can be devastating to any book.

Tip: The most important part of maintenance is to remember that books are ephemeral creatures that can't withstand the elements. Be aware of their surroundings.

Don't smoke in your personal library

If you must smoke, go outside. The smoke from cigarettes and cigars never truly leaves a book without months of de-scenting, if then. No one likes books that reek of smoke.

Personalize your library

Once your library is up and running, consider making is yours in a big way. If you have any craft skills, you can make personalized bookmarks, bookplates, and book covers for the books in your library.

How to make a bookmark

how to make a bookmark A bookmark is a small piece of thin cardstock (or occasionally wood or metal) used to mark one's place in a book. Don't destroy precious books by dog-earing the page corners. Use a bookmark to hold your place for the next reading session, which is far preferable rather than folding down page corners.

Although many bookmarks are personalized, a bookmark is not a permanent addition to the book the way a bookplate would be. Not only that, but big readers will frequently read several books at once and thus can never have enough bookmarks.

A bookmark can be digitally designed in a graphics app such as Adobe Photoshop, or even Paint. This is not necessarily an economical method to create a bookmark as you will have to buy a packet of thin cardstock to print off your designs. Most standard bookmarks are 2" x 6" as this will fit comfortably into a standard paperback book.

Tip: Once your basic bookmark is complete, feel free to dress up your bookmark with a ribbon or thread tassel to make it even easier to see where your bookmark is in the book.

How to make a bookplate

how to make a bookplate A bookplate is a stamp or printed label placed inside the front cover of the book to denote ownership. The name of the book's owner will normally be handwritten onto the bookplate. If you have ever peeked into a thrift store book to see a label reading "Ex Libris" (Latin, "from the library of"), you have found a bookplate.

Most book lovers (myself included) have a habit of lending out books. The best way to keep track of which ones are yours and which are loaners is with bookplates. Inscribe your name on the book plate and lend away without worry!

Not only that, but should you gift a book to someone, you can easily record the date and occasion on the book plate so they can have a fond memory for years to come.

A bookplate can be digitally designed in a graphics app such as Adobe Photoshop, or even Paint. Once you have a suitable design, it is easy to print off your designs. 2" by 4" Avery labels are considered a standard size for bookplate labels. In addition, a label can be placed inside a used book to cover any previous labels or names. Regardless of who had owned the book prior to you, it is yours now!

How to make a book cover

how to make a book cover A book cover is a protective covering used on the exterior of a book. The basic homemade brown paper book cover has been largely superseded by dust jackets on hardcover books, but paperbooks still must do without a protective covering. It is easy to make a custom book cover to personalize any book in your home library with a few basic supplies that you probably already have around the house.

Why make a book cover? A book cover exists to protect your book. Not only is this an important factor during back to school season when your children's schoolbooks should be covered to protect them from weather and rambunctious children, but any of the books in your personal home library which are without a proper dust jacket (most paperbacks, for example) should also be protected. If you take care of your books, they will last longer.

Supplies to make a book cover:

how to make a book cover

Start by opening the bag flat. Cut along the side seams of the bag to open it flat. Once open, you can place your book in the center of the flattened paper. Fold the long ends of the bag over so it fits snugly around the book. If you have a lot of excess paper at the top and bottom, feel free to trim to size.

how to make a book cover how to make a book cover

Make diagonal cuts on either side of the spine, and tuck the excess paper in along the spine. Make sure your cuts are angled enough to close the book, then check the fit. If you need to make any adjustments so it both fits snugly and closes properly, do so now.

how to make a book cover how to make a book cover

Fold the edges of the book cover up to cover the edges of the book. Fasten with two pieces of tape (one around the edge, one on the interior). Repeat for all edges. Once you have finished the actual book cover, you can decorate it with drawings, stickers, stamps, etc as you see fit. When you are done, admire your hard work.

how to make a book cover how to make a book cover

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