Library Death Cleaning

Mary's library for weeding

Since I am working from home right now, I have set up shop in what we call “the library.” Most of the stuff in this room are books, pictures, and some miscellany from family. This room is more for reading and not working. However, I wanted to keep library work separate from my other stuff, so I used this room so I could spread out.

We have a LOT of books in this room. Most of the time, I don’t pay attention since I mostly read library books. I can’t remember the last time I looked at titles in here. Combine this with the fact that I turned 60 last month, and we have known people that have been sick – and in some cases died – from COVID-19, I had a literal Swedish Death Cleaning moment. I am not planning to die soon, but I have decided that it’s time to get rid of our detritus throughout the house, starting with this room.

Home libraries are unique to the owner. They don’t have collection development policies. I wrote about some book people that were upset about Marie Kondo’s advice about paring down one’s library. I think there is merit in paring down one’s personal library. So with this in mind, I will be sharing, from time to time, some special items from my home library. I am going to start with the easy stuff. So let’s kick this off!

By the way, if any of you are in a similar situation and are weeding through some of your household items and books, please share your finds with us. I am sure all of us have stuff in our possession that begs the question: “Why do I have this?”

A History of a Free People textbookA History of a Free People
Bragdon, McCutchen, and Cole
1974 printing

My first example is this gem. I believe this is my high school American history text. Since it is in my possession, I can only assume I must have walked off with it, and probably owe my high school some money. Why I have it is a mystery to me.  Since it is 50 years out of date and I am not having any nostalgic moments, I think this will find its way into the circular file.


Update 6/20/2020: I have added a page about my project and a category so you can see my progress. Mary


  1. The circular file is fine — if you empty it into the paper recycling bin afterwards!

    1. In most places, books are not recyclable. If you put books into the recycling, all you do is force the recyclers to throw away an entire bin of potential recyclables.

      1. Our recycle accepts them – _if_ you tear the paper out of the hardbacks and trash the spine and covers. Check your local agency.

  2. I have moved several times, which does wonders for my collection – every time I pack things up, there’s a pile of “why do I even HAVE this!?” that gets donated (if whole) or thrown away (otherwise). Books included. If I don’t think I’ll ever read them, or if I have read them and didn’t enjoy them, they get passed on. I’m sure other people would have opinions on my taste – why keep Mary Balogh paperbacks and donate fancy hardback August Strindberg? – but I’m not keeping things around for what people think. (And hopefully the Strindberg went to someone who likes him.)

    1. I looked that man up… and have not seen facial hair like that since JH van ‘t Hoff. I’m not sure which I would rather take a three hour tour with, if you know what I mean.

  3. You posted too high a resolution immage of your library, so I spent the entire post looking at the books you have. I’ll take the Crichtons when they go.

  4. I should Figure our how to upload pics and show you some books I found in Grandma’s collection… she keeps them for nostalgia purposes but admits they are horribly racist and classist.

  5. Are your books in Dewey Decimal order, and how are they not pushed all the way up to the edge of the shelf?

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