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Lightening The Library Before A Big Move

timesunion.com (Website) - 5/16/2011 by Naomi Seldin Ramirez
A reader and his wife are moving. His wife, he says, has a lot of books. So he asked me on Facebook: “What do we do with them, and how do we decide what to keep?”

I love books, but they’re a pain to move, which is one reason I’ve downsized my own library over the past few years. Book lovers commiserate about stuff like this. One blogger told me he weighed the cost of moving his books against the cost of replacing them afterward before deciding which ones were worth hauling across the country.

I asked Neil Bindelglass, a professional organizer, for some insight. Neil deals with questions like this one professionally, but he’s also been there personally: He’s a bibliophile who left a whopping 3,900 books behind the last time he moved. Before he became a professional organizer, he also worked for the New York Public Library (he has a master’s in library science, too).

In short, the guy knows (and loves) books. Here’s his answer:

Books are a tough one, bub. As a librarian, a serious bibliophile, a professional organizer and a man who has recently moved and willingly downsized, I am torn in so many ways as to how to answer this question.

Although books are heavy and cumbersome to move, most are not fragile, fortunately. (Rare and antiquarian books are the exception to this rule.) The first question I would ask you: What is your wife’s level of wanting to downsize her library? If she is a bibliophile, tread carefully. In my experience as a professional organizer, it is easier to ask my female clients to part with their shoes and handbags than to ask a bibliophile to divest themselves of their books.

I would also ask what kind of a collection of books she owns. Cookbooks? Gardening books? Historical fiction? History? Antiquarian? Romance novels?

Without this knowledge, it is difficult for me to approach this question. That said, here is the advice I can give you — and please bear in mind that I am assuming that the collection is a popular literature collection:

Any paperbacks that are in good condition, but that your wife most likely will never read again, can be donated to a school, public library, hospital or home for the elderly, or can be recycled via Paperback Swap (a great tool for avid readers — it’s essentially a book exchange).