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!


Vasilly said...

I think it's a great idea to write a post like this one even privately. When it comes to my reference selection, I've found that I have a ton of books on writing and reading like Daniel Pennac's The Rights of the Reader. Are there are reference books you would like to add to your collection that you haven't yet?

Kristen M. said...

Impressive! The thing I need to work on the most is having enough shelf space to properly store my books on. I just bought a small shelf for my TBR piles (they were literally piles on the floor) and am going to attempt to get down to the point where all my TBR books will fit on that fixture.

J.C. Montgomery said...

I love this! I am going to print it out and put it on my bulletin board so it never becomes "out of sight, out of mind".

Recently I wrote a post professing myself to be a Domestic Librarian. So this post is beyond timely.

I agree about having a reference selection. Right now those books are on one of the few bookcases I have, and right behind me as I type. I refer to them constantly.

I look forward to you delving further into your Mission Statement. Thank you for sharing!

Andi said...

Excellent! Love this mission statement, and it seems as if you're well on your way.

Zibilee said...

Great mission statement Marie! It sounds like you really know what direction you want to go in, so good luck with it all!

Marie Cloutier said...

Vasilly, definitely yes but I don't know what they are! LOL. I feel like I should own a Bible, and maybe a book of Catholic catechism, and probably some other things too. I could do with a book on housekeeping!

Kristen, shelf space is a never-ending problem for me. You have my sympathy & best wishes!

JC, I'm going to have to look for your post on Domestic Librarianship!

Andi, Zibilee, thanks, I'm doing my best!

Anonymous said...

What an excellent goal and impressive set of "rules".

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this and may have to use some of your rules for my book collection... especially the knickknack free rule!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Wow! I am very impressed that you've articulated your goals and are so honest in your assessment of progress (esp. like "unless I really want something really badly" :) )

Care to come over and do an intervention on my bookshelves?

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I really love this post! I'm in the process of packing to move, so have been trying to cut down my library in a way that reflects the kinds of books I want to have with me and to share with others. I feel like some version of this might have helped make the culling process less random and mood specific. Good luck as you work on your goals!

Laura said...

I've been enjoying your series; it's making me think about my own home library in a different way. Here's a post about it. Your mission statement is very well thought out and I'm looking forward to your future posts. Thanks!

Serena said...

Wonderful progress...I can't wait to hear more

Amy said...

I love this post! Definitely worth thinking about and talking about your library and what it means to you in order to keep it perfect.

Anonymous said...

enjoyed this.. looking forward to future posts on your Statement.

in the midst of a move and your thoughts are running through mine as to how we are going to set up ours in our limited space [need more shelves!--and square footage].


Bookin' It said...

I love that you did this! You have inspired me to think about it--sadly, I never really have. I've just stacked the books with no real thought. I too have way too many knick knacks. I'm moving into a new house in a couple of weeks with great built-in bookshelves and I can't wait to come up with a plan for them. Thanks!

Eva said...

This is such fun to think about! You inspired me to do my own post, if you'd like to read it. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Makes me think that I really need to consider what I want to get out of/do with my own home library.

Kathleen said...

You've inspired me to sit down and think about my library and how I can go about rebuilding it.