Books can be a tricky one for some people as the bookshelf contains so many hopes, dreams, emotions, adventures and memories.
There is value in every word on every page, but is it still valuable if the book is left collecting dust for many years?
So how do we decide what stays and what goes?
Essentially the same as most other categories of items. If they are damaged, unloved (or too loved), incomplete, irrelevant, out-of-date or age inappropriate they should go. If they are collecting dust on a shelf, in the garage or the top of the wardrobe, dust them off and pass them forward.
If they are old enough, ask your kids which books they have grown out of or don’t use any more. This helps you with any guilt you may feel, but also empowers them to make decisions about their stuff, helps them to set some limits and provides them with valuable life skills all at the same time.
If the shelves are overflowing, you need to pare back.
What do I do with the keepers?
First and foremost, make sure they have a home. Everything must have a defined space to support order. It also means that you know exactly where to find them when you need them.
Use your bookcase/s to set a physical limit for you and stick with it. And once you are done, use the one-in, one-out rule to maintain.
What do I do with the ones that no longer have a purpose for me?
If your books are in good condition, you could sell, swap or donate them.
- Sell or Swap:
o Swap with your friends or family
o Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace (more for collections rather than individual books in general)
o Many universities have Facebook pages for selling second hand text books
o Garage Sale
o Sell to a second-hand book dealers (don’t get your hopes up for a huge return though).
- Donate options:
o Lifeline (for those in Canberra and surrounds, you can drop donations at their Mitchell warehouse 24/7, the Queanbeyan City Council Library or at their upcoming Bookfair on 9 February at Exhibition Park)
o Green Shed (Mitchell or Mugga Lane)
o Schools (a number of schools seem to be collecting books at the moment for their upcoming fetes)
If you would like to donate to Lifeline (or anywhere else) please ensure that books are not soiled or damaged. The purpose of your donations is for these causes to raise funds to continue with their valuable work, not to pass on items that they need to spend these funds on disposing of. I don’t expect that any of the Allsorts community would, but sadly there are so many people who use charity sites as dumping grounds…..don’t get me started on this, it’s one of my pet peeves!
Lifeline will also accept comics, magazines and pamphlets, encyclopaedias (pre-1940 or the last 20 years only), sheet music, maps, atlases, calendars and postcards, stamps and trading cards and talking books. This includes materials in languages other than English. Please drop your donations off in a smaller sized cardboard box or shopping bag (they love the green bags!) so they are easy for the volunteers to lift and carry. I have also dropped off excess green shopping bags when I deliver books as the volunteers leave some out in the after hours drop off area for donations. See more information about what Lifeline will and won’t accept here.
If the books are soiled, damaged irreparably, incomplete etc. they will need to be recycled. Do consider the material of the cover when doing so. You should check your local government or council website for more information about what items can be recycled. For my friends in Canberra, visit the ACT Waste and Recycling Guide here.
How did you go? I managed to do four shopping bags full which were primarily cookbooks, some texts that were no longer relevant or I did not find useful. Hubby let go of some fiction as he is never one to read things again, plus he now prefers to read e-books most of the time.
Feel free to share your successes, challenges and tips on our Facebook page.