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    Hi Everyone,

    What do you keep in your home libraries?

    I am trying to streamline life and homeschool and declutter. My husband is building bookshelves at this very moment, and he did comment …” …why do you need so many books anyway?”

    I am still trying to learn what is twaddle, so I’m sure I have some books that need to go because I am aware that some are quite useless to us anyway!

    I look forward to some words of wisdom.

    Thankyou to you all who read and reply.



    (Australia ds8 & dd2)


    Hahaha…tell your dh there is a crazy lady on this forum who has over 10,000 books on 32 7′ bookcases and in totes!  Laughing  I started my collection years ago when my now 19yos was in K and it grew so big that I opened a homeschool lending library.  Most of them are out of print.  But I do understand your need.  Just look at each book, read a bit of it and ask yourself, “Does this make the subject come alive?  Will it light a fire in my children?  If it’s a fiction book, will it edify us.  Will we be better people after reading it?”  Just a few questions like that will help you weed quite a lot.  If there are those you are still unsure about, post them on here.  I’m sure you’d get some wonderful advice.


    Hi RobinP,

    It’s quite funny when I think about it…that when we started HS (only 9mths agao) we have gone from a 3 shelf 1×0.8 m case to our new book cases today…2x (2.2×1.5m) x5shelves ea, I can see where he is coming from…our house ain’t that big!!…and I think he can see it growing each year. BUT I can’t believe you’ve got over 10,000 books, that’s MAD but fantastic. I would have to be careful I didn’t become a recluse.

    Those questions to ask myself are just what I needed thankyou.

    (By the way RobinP I was very encouraged on another post where you commented about where your older boys are now and I know your not bragging but I told a few people because I thought it was terrific that they have done so well.)




    I have very limited space and it’s a constant challenge to keep the number of books manageable. We’re often over-run with books! A few things I have found helpful:

    * Be willing to read a book and then “let it go.” Give books away freely or sell them as you finish them. This works for books you are unlikely to read again, or unlikely to read in the near future.

    * Refrain from buying books for the future. I practice “just in time inventory” with books and clothes because of my space limitations. Buy books as you need them, or shortly before you need them, rather than years in advance.

    * If you have a stack of unread books, avoid adding new books to your home until you’ve read what you have. This is hard! I’m embaressed how many books I’ve purchased and then never opened once I got home. If there are books in your unread stack that you are not reading, go ahead and get rid of them rather than hang on to books that no longer appeal to you. If the books still appeal to you, read them before adding more to your shelves.

    * Keep only books that are useful to you, that have special meaning to you, that you want to re-read again in the future (or re-use for younger children), or that you intend to read for the first time soon. If the book is likely to sit there unread for years and year, toss it out. If you happen to regret decluttering a partiular book, chances are very good you’ll find another copy if needed.

    * Let the library be your strorage area. In other words, use the library as much as is convenient for you.

    Hope that helps a little.


    It’s so hard to let books go, but I went through the shelves and I have 1 box full of books I don’t think we’ll ever look at or like, so am happy with that thus far.

    I have gathered so many books because the library is not easy for us to access, we live a little ways out so a trip to the library is a scheduled thing (a bit of a day trip) and I like having our own to keep espeially if we’ll read them again.

    Only buying books as I see we need them is a great idea as I do have some that are for use down the track, so will refrain from further future buying.

    I am going to see if my HS group has or will have a book swap/carboot sale/ giveaway day/ Pay It Forward Day or something like that.

    Thankyou for these suggestions.






    Since you mentioned your library is difficult to use, here’s another thought on buying books ahead…

    I agree that with a limited space it makes sense to buy books shortly before or as you need them. I’ve been limited in my book buying because I don’t have much money to spend, but I’ve found that there are some kinds of books I can buy ahead safely, and not feel it’s a waste of money or space. The only books I buy years ahead are literature or history books. This is purely a personal choice for our family, because we happen to LOVE history and the literature books I’m buying are either replacing worn-out copies from my childhood or are favorites I’m 99% sure we’ll use. For example, I’d buy Treasure Island for my children even if we weren’t planning to homeschool. I’ve also decided to buy the literature books in hardcover vs. paperback because the hardcover ones from my childhood have held up -the paperbacks have not. I will not spend more than 1.00 on these (unless it’s been illustrated by NC Wyeth – who is one of my favorite artists)

    Where I’m going with this is… you may have different “subject” areas (ones your family is interested in or the books are hard to find etc) that you can buy books ahead and not feel like you’re wasting the limited space you have. Might be something to consider, especially if the library is hard to use in your case. Another idea is to keep an eye out for reference books for subjects like science or nature study, the ones that cover more than one animal. This could save shelf space too. Anna Comstock’s “Handbook of Nature Study” comes to mind right away. But then, you’ve probably already figured that one out! πŸ™‚


    Good for you, Renelle!  It always feels good when you can clear up some space for the more worthwhile!  When I was officially opening my library and was weeding books, I was shocked to see  how much twaddle had crept in.  I boxed those up and had a yard sale.  There were seven BIG boxes and six shelves of children’s books and two bookcases of adult books!!!  (I also had way too many duplicates of great books…)  Embarassed  I’m bad for that.

    I do agree with morgrace.  Sometimes you come across a great find that you just can’t pass up.  In that case, don’t.  You may never find it again (in my case many of my books are OOP) or may never find it for that price.  And I always replace a paperback copy with a hardback if I find a good price.  So AFTER you de-twaddle, keep your eyes peeled for real gems that your family will love.



    In trying to keep my books under control I’ve started to apply this standard – If the world went crazy tomorrow and I couldn’t get to the library ever again, and the only books I have available are the ones in my home….do I want this book to be one of those?  It’s amazing how many books I could do without!  Truly, would I care if I could never again read the Pokemon chapter books?  No, I wouldn’t.  So they left.  Would I care if I could never show my children what a panda bear looks like?  Probably.  

    I have found it helpful to go through my books over and over.  The first time through I’ll get rid of everything I don’t want.  But wouldn’t you know it, a week or so later there are more books I could get rid of.  But then NO MORE.  And wouldn’t you know, there are more the next week or month.

    I keep everything I need for teaching everything.  But I’m brutal about what gets to stay long term.  If we read it and don’t like it I trade it on Paperback Swap.  I do have 9 bookshelves, some big, some small.  But we move a lot and most of our libraries have been pathetic for good, iiving books.  So when I find them, I buy them.



    Thankyou all for your practical ideas. I’ll do a before and after shot of our shelves and put it on our blog sometime soon. It’s all part of the fun of homeschooling! Take care




    Heather: what great advice!  I’m going to look at my book buying differently from now on! 


    I have enjoyed reading all the posts on this thread.  I wanted to add one category of books to collect & keep.

    Local interests

    I have a collection of books by local authors and some field guides that are specific to my region.  Even if we end up moving, I think my children will appreciate books about their first home.


    I LOVE books, but my frugal self has learned that it’s a waste of money to buy a book I can get at the library. I buy reference books (hymnals, poetry books, nature guides, Christian parenting books, herbal books), living history books that aren’t available at the library, and character building books (Lamplighter, Ballantyne, Henty). 

    I have a great church library nearby too, so I always check there before purchasing anything.

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