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acquiring or creating a personal library

The Personal Library Guide

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Aug 4, 2013, 2:30am Top

Where does one start creating a library ? for many a book collection begins to take shape because one reads and buy a few books . Fom there it's downhill all the way as book acquisitions multiply . Before you are overwhelmed by books it is best to develop a plan for a coherent collection and you are then on your way to a library. The advantage of LT is that it offers the facility of organizing books in collections and used tags or key words to identify and gather together electronically similar subject books.

Building a library can be a challenge and an absorbing past time . A personal library is no longer for the very wealthy but can be indulged in by anyone with an eye for a book. A personal library need not be valuable but it should reflect your interests and personality. Much depends on where you buy your books, what your budget is and how much time can you firstly spend looking for books and secondly reading the books . The challenge is to read as fast as one acquires books .

The acquisition of a Personal Book collection .

A book collection is normally a reflection and expression of your personality and a life of experiences and a life well lived. Your library will reflect your collecting interests. Often a book collection grows and one day you find you have a library . The purchase of just two books a month for 48 months or two years starts your collection off with 92 books . Book collecting is an addictive pleasure and most of us acquire far more than 2 books a month .

The nucleus of a book collection could be your favourite childhood books. High school reading matter may also yield gems you wish to keep as a treasure. Then there are the books studied in college or university . A book collection may be inherited with in your family , as in Uncle Mike's books ( there is a decision to be made as
to whether you wish to keep these but that is another section) . Friends may give you books . You may set aside a budget per month to spend on books and have a regular visit to your favourite new bookshop so that your object becomes to acquire only new books . Often good bookstores either have a sale table or have a periodic sale and bargains can be sourced this way. there are shops specializing in publishers remainders which give you access to publishers' over runs . Excellent bargains may be had . The caveat here may be that there is a reason for placing books on sale (not the best sellers, or poorly written ). Publishers' remainder books are often discretely but obviously marked with a black dot on the bottom edge of The book .

The Internet is a good source for books . You will no doubt have your favourite on line store . There are many to choose from ... Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris , Ardis , Kalahari, are specialist book sites. Often one major book site amalgamate dealers from around the world and gives access to a wider choice . A cautionary word , in buying on line, you are buying sight unseen and while a return policy may be allowed , it is a bother to repack and return. In the case of second hand descriptions, books may not always be described consistently or accurately. Postage and possibly customs charges , must be factored into the book price .

To make your budget go further take a look at the used book sector , but second hand books need their own caveats . Condition and collectability are factors . Condition refers to the physical condition of the book as well as inscriptions in the book, markings in the book, missing pages . The age of the book does not make it collectable or valuable . You need to formulate your own minimum requirements for purchasing a book in a second hand shop . Sometimes you may be keen on. reading copy and will dispose of the book when a better version comes along .

Charity , thrift or goodwill shops are a great source for second hand books. Prices are usually modest and gems may present themselves . The caveat for these purchases is that they sell whatever comes their way and it is a mixed bag. Your own knowledge becomes important in purchasing from this source .

From book collection to personal library .

Edited: Aug 4, 2013, 11:07am Top

The accumulation of TBR (To Be Read) books on your personal library shelves can be controlled but can you really totally avoid this dilemma caused by impulse buying.

The question of how readers will discover books that they didn't already plan to buy has been noted by the book industry players as more sales generated from online book retailers rather than from physical bookstores.This quick and hassle free to purchase a book is not really good for a reader being not able to skim the content of a book as in a bookstore , it matter to me a lot and to avoid a bad habit of impulse buying.

Statistics shown:
Source: 2011-2011 U.S> Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review

Even with the browsing of books, the survey reported than 30 % of the shoppers purchased on impulse as compared to 17 % of online shoppers. This show that with the browsing of books contents to make a decision to purchase a particular or specific book title also resulted to a cause of impulsive buying.

The habits of readers buying books is becoming more important to understand as reported in 2010 people spent on books online than any other means.Online retailers captured 30 % of the money spent on books last year, as compared with bookstore chains and small bookstores.

The buying of books from real/online used bookshops/, thrift shops or ex-library sales are only necessary to buy if you are looking for some specific titles but not on impulse buying even though with your strict budgeting-spending traits.

It will be good to cultivate a habit to buy only a new book( at a time) not a handful of books only after finishing reading a book to maintain a modest personal library- one for one replacement to avoid the cluttering of books ( you have completed reading) and TBR books.

Aug 8, 2013, 3:20am Top

Welcome to this small ( hopefully growing group) Razzamajazz- I think your words of advice are most sensible but very hard to adhere to.

My policy on book acquisitions is i. I only buy books that fall in my collecting interests or ii I decide that I definitely want to read the book or us it for study purposes iii that at some stage in the future it will be read.

My husband's rule ( more honoured in the breach than the observance is that as one new book comes into the house another older one should be discarded or dispatched. This rule does not work if you are a committed builder of a library which is why my library now heading to the 14000 mark.

I am a firm believer in giving books away - possible homes for giving = friends who have a particular interest ; books at Christmas and birthday presents ( I keep a stock of interesting new books), one's favourite charity for their next book sale; a local school library ( I try to give new books occasionally to the local schools); one's students who may not be able to afford a book; fellow books enthusiasts for a particular topid ( eg there are a few of us who collect books on Johannesburg history and Africana books and I try to give duplicates of good titles ). Perhaps we can add to this list for tplg.

I want to develop the theme of moving from acquiring boooks to turning the acquired books into a library... watch this space.

Edited: Aug 8, 2013, 3:44am Top

Your library reaching to 14,000th mark is indeed a sizeable collection of books. It is almost equivalent to a size of small community club library.

Your intention to improve this group such as the recommendation of certain "landmark" or "memorable" books worthy to be owned and placed on your personal library's bookshelves,
and even better, a discussion or forum on books you worth mentioning is a very good idea.

Edited: Aug 8, 2013, 6:10am Top

I have observed elsewhere (which means I can't remember where) that when I started drafting the 'Guide' I skipped the bit about 'acquiring books' because we all do it fairly naturally, and usually pretty efficiently. The need to 'spend the dollar' wisely is a great incentive to developing efficient book-acquiring habits. I though - if anything - we might come back to that subject later on when the rest of the Guide was settling down.

I still think that's pretty much the case, except that I take it from your contributions that there is quite a bit to be said about 'building a library' as opposed to simply 'buying books'. The planning aspect of 'developing' the library interests me a lot, although I hadn't thought much about it before. It goes back to some very core LT features, such as using the recommendations etc. Where do you go to get advice about what books are 'good' for you? And where do you start in defining what is 'good for you'. There's quite a philosophical angle here, as well as a practical.

Thinking outside the box, it's not just such a simple thing as 'I know what I like and that's what I buy'. For instance where is the 'surprise' factor in that approach? Should you try and shape your child's interests by getting certain books - or better still get a range of books to allow for the child's own interests, and in that case what are good 'generalist' books (and which are good 'specialist' books). Should you get both fiction and non-fiction? Does one enhance the experience of the other? (I'd say yes). Why is it worth buying local authors and publishers and stories (lots of reasons). Even a nod to those who are interested in value - why first editions are a sound investment (but will you ever dare read them...). Should you set 'honey traps' by acquiring books that might interest your partner/child/work-mates. I can see that there is at least a few thousand words in this, and some fundamental views and arguments. And I agree it would be attractive to a lot of people - much more so than a discussion on death and what it means to someone with thousands of books (because there are more starting out than there are in my situation - or Africansky1's).

I have been a bit out of it lately, I work in an electronic 'black hole' for 12 hours a day when I'm not on holiday (as I've been recently). It's hard to keep up with LT until I get a few days off in a row. I am still targetting end of August for a fairly ship-shape Guide, and hopefully it will include at least a 'shell' into which we can later bring across 'good stuff' about 'building libraries' from this Topic/Group. Best regards, Nd.

Edit: There is mention in the Guide about the 'essential shelf', the dictionary and atlas etc. This could be expanded as well.
Edit: And the notion of building to include non-book items, but also which non-book items to start with, and how to develop THAT collection.
Edit: And the notion that you might join with others to 'develop a library' between you. Either swapping discards or specialising in certain areas.
Edit: And the notion that a library might 'change direction' according to lifestyle events (eg more childrens books when there are children)
Edit: How can you tell that the library is 'developing' according to your plan (are you clear what your plan is, how do you measure success in this?)
hint - sheer numbers might be an indicator of failure rather than success, but ain't necessarily so...
Edit: Does two people in one house with two plans result in two libraries? Or is there room for co-ordination?
Edit: The role of downsizing in developing a library, winnowing out the dross to expose the 'true structure' underneath, and the gems.
Edit: Recruiting friends to help you develop your library - common interests OR beneficial cross-interests. I help you spot glassware, you tell me about books you've seen in the charity shops. Ditto, you collect Agatha Christie, I collect Nicolas Freeling.

Edited: Aug 8, 2013, 7:35am Top

The Personal Library Guide is very useful for guidelines to " Everything You Want To Know To
Build and Maintain A Personal Library Collection , but not afraid to ask ". Worthy to be released
as a publication.

Thank you to


Aug 8, 2013, 2:25pm Top

Yes, I do think that a book collection or library "evolves" and changes through the decades. What one collects this year may differ from next year. One may become passionate about a particular author and want to acquire all of his works ( and LT is a great guide to doing just that) or on a particular subject or theme. I think the greatest coherence results when a library has a focus and a core collection and rather like a spider web one set of interests grow into others. My own collection is quite ecletic though I do see certain big areas - that have grabbed my interest. I find it quite hard to let go of collections when perhaps no longer critical. One has to be brave and ruthless to let go of carefully built collections. Re the question about 2 people in one house - depends on personalities and compatibility as to whether it will be 2 collections or 2 related collections or 1 collection of two parts. I do think when you live with a partner for 40 years you begin to resemble one another, share interests and spark one another with discussions about books and authors and so it becomes a shared project. Friends are also important in sharing and that too is the benefit of LT as we become friends and partners on line in this project.

Edited: Aug 21, 2013, 8:04pm Top

I am looking into the notion of building (or growing) a library so that a child will 'grow up surrounded by books', which prompts the question(s): (a) is there some evidence that this is 'good' for children? (b) If it was once good for children has the internet and television taken its place (and giving equally good results)? (c) What do we mean when we talk about 'good' anyway? (d) What is the best method/material to achieve that aim (of surrounding a child by books which have the best effect, whatever that might be).

Only (d) belongs in the Section 'Growing A Library'. The questions (and answers) to (a)(b) and (c) belong in the Section 'Activity in the Library Space'. And the discussion on (d) can only really begin when the other questions are answered.

Most of this discussion (so far) is over at the 'Activity in the Library Space' discussion topic, here.

The discussion there suggests that items that are associated with people the child knows (or knows of) are probably the most powerful 'inspirations' and they gain power by being associated with related books, maps, pictures and charts.


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