Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Building a Better Home Library: My Home Library Mission Statement

My home library is the intellectual and spiritual center of my home. It’s a place dedicated to storing and displaying the books I’ve read and the books I want to read.
  • My home will have dedicated space for books and I will respect that space and leave it free of knicknacks and other flotsam. Shelves will be kept tidy.This is a work in progress. My shelves have a lot of knicknacks.


My home library is a safe space, where I can relax in private, with books enriching, entertaining and utilitarian.
  • My library will be home to a variety of genres and forms, including literary and functional works such as cookbooks, craft books and blank books for inspiration and my own writing. Done.

My home library is the first place I will look for the answers to day to day questions.
  • My library will contain a basic set of reference volumes. I have some reference books; a dictionary, a biographical dictionary, quotations, more foreign-language dictionaries than you can shake a stick at. But my reference collection needs thought and work.


I value the written word and its printed and bound expression.
  • My library will be home to quality editions of the books that are meaningful to me- the classics I love both time-worn and contemporary, be they world-renowned or idiosyncratic and personal. As time and budget allow, I will endeavor to replace worn paperbacks of valued books with long-lasting, well-made editions. I will maintain a wishlist of quality editions to use for personal shopping and gift suggestions. In progress.

My home library will continue to be home to a number of special collections.

  • Collecting is an expression of my love of books. As time and budget allow, I will continue to purchase vintage editions of Jane Eyre, first editions of the works of Margaret Atwood and AS Byatt as well as Booker Prize winners, and seek autographs for favorite books. I will maintain a special bookcase for signed volumes.
  • I will be reasonable and circumspect in my collecting and avoid profligacy. Unless I really want something really badly. I'm doing my best to be reasonable!

The contents of my home library transmit and express my values and interests.
  • Like subjects and genres will be shelved together so books are easy to find and form a visual statement.
  • I will continue to collect in particular interest areas such as Russian literature and prize winners.
  • Books that I value will be displayed prominently. I have to figure out what this means when I have one big bank of shelves in the living room and several smaller bookcases throughout the house. Work in progress!

The library will be renewed and refreshed often.
  • Weeding will be ongoing and ruthless. I will keep the books I love and discard those I don’t to make sure I always have room for what’s important to me.
  • I will endeavor to get maximum value for the volumes I'm able to sell and dedicate at least half of bookstore credit earned to quality editions of favorite books. In progress! I have a big pile of books to sell in the downstairs hallway right now.


Over the next few weeks I'm going to take most of these topics one by one and see what I can come up with to improve my home library. As always I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!