I LOVE books! I love to read! I love to research! This love has caused me to collect MANY hundreds upon hundreds of books throughout the years. From the time I was a young girl in early elementary school, my mom gave me a regular allowance to buy books and I've continued the habit of buying and reading books for my entire life. I still have some of my favorite books from my childhood and I've had the pleasure of reading many of them with my own children.
Having always owned lots of books, I haven’t always understood the importance of having a large personal library of books. The importance grew as I noticed that finding books was becoming more and more difficult due in part to the new trend towards ebooks and e-readers. But honestly, my desire to build my own personal library probably started before the availability of digital books.
One day a little more than 20 years ago, I took my children into the large downtown library to find books on making model boats and various ways to power them. We were doing a study on Christopher Columbus with a group of friends and we’d challenged all of the kids to build their own boat that would be able to float from one side of an in-ground pool to the other. Each of my kids took home several titles and busily worked on making their own boat creations, exploring several science concepts as they did so. The project was a great success for both the kids and the parents involved.
A decade later, I once again was teaching a group of kids some science concepts that would best be learned by giving them the project of building a boat. We loaded kids into the car and traveled to the same library that I’d used years ago. I looked in the section that should have been brimming with books on both the topic of boat building and on making simple machines. Finding none, I asked the librarian where they’d all gone. She informed me that, because they were trying to get more funding from the city, they’d emptied many of their shelves and sold them in the annual book sale so that their need for new books would be more apparent to local legislators and to voters. She further informed me that there few good titles on those types of non-fiction subjects being published anymore.
Over the next couple of years, I noticed the same problem in other libraries throughout DFW. Having already set a specific BOOKS budget line item in our personal budget years earlier, I was determined more than ever to build my own personal library. The books in my personal library range from children’s stories to Bibles, from non-fiction to fiction, from biographies to field guides, from cookbooks to how-to books. I have books on science topics such as bird watching, human anatomy, chemistry, nature exploration, and so much more! I have books on economics, finance, house repair and cleaning. I have reference materials such as dictionaries, grammar guides, thesauruses, concordances, biblical commentaries and historical timeline guides. I have instructional books on crafts such as beading, crocheting, sewing, drawing, painting, gardening, book-making and many more. I also have a large library of history books ranging from the beginning of creation to ancient time periods, to current biographies of important people and events.
While I own most of my favorite books in tangible paper format, I also own a small library of both audio and ebooks. The benefit of owning an audio book is that I can have someone read to me as I work with my hands doing mindless tasks like washing dishes or folding laundry. Additionally, the Audible app that I use allows me to bookmark and take notes, which gives me an outline so that I can quickly scan the book again in the future if I want to do so. The benefit of owning ebooks is that I can carry books with me wherever my iPhone, iPad or laptop goes. When I travel, having a small library that can travel with me is invaluable. However, there's nothing that takes the place of actually holding a book in my hands and smelling the aroma of the book as I feel the texture and weight while I read. When I want to study a topic, I not only pull up some trustworthy Internet sites on my laptop or perhaps an ebook or two, I also surround myself with my pile of books on the topic that I'm researching.
To keep from being overrun with books that we no longer need, I periodically go through my books and cull the ones that no longer meet the needs of my family. Culling books is sometimes easy, but often it’s hard. It’s a personal decision. One person’s favorite book might be another person’s next title to be donated. For me, I ask myself some questions similar to these:
At one time I realized that I had 15 different books written on the life of George Washington! I made myself review each book and choose my five favorites. That was a hard cull, but my space limitations required it at the time.
My goals for my library are:
Do you have a library of books in your home? Why or why not? If you do, what are your goals for your library? What are some of your favorite books?