Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cleaning out the book collection

I am one of those book lovers, that has books piled up all over the place, and though I have 13 book shelves of various sizes throughout the main part of the house, they seem to fill up with natural wonders, photos, child's ceramic creations and knick-knacks, though I try hard to keep the latter to a minimum. I was having a hard time finding the books I need for my research, so it was time for a major book review.

When I moved into my parents house, it already had a very substantial, mostly Latvian book collection. I have kept the major tomes shelf in tact - with the complete works of various Latvian authors, the 12 vol. folk song set, the 15 vol. folk tale set, and the Daugava publisher's series on Latvian history, where each volume weighs about 4 pounds. I combined our Latvian literature collections and put them down in the basement. (I know, I know, not the best place for books, but more about the basement later.) I kept upstairs the books I use - encyclopedias, dictionaries, those for teaching in Latvian school, current reading, etc. And over these 10 years they accumulated and got disorganized.

After New Years, I set up two big tables in my living-dining room and pulled out all the books I had in piles and on the shelves around the house and put them in piles - by categories including "never read" and "give-aways." Even as a book lover, I realize I don't need to keep everything. Especially my English language volumes I could say I will never read or reread this, and if I really need it, I can get it at a library. Even with my Latvian volumes, I definitely did not need to keep duplicates, and there were other books that would make more sense in the Latvian school or Garezers library. I am also thinking of moving overseas when I retire, and one way of thinking about what to keep or not to keep was to say, would I take this with me when I move. I wish I used that criteria more stringently, but at least it helped me get rid of some books. In the end I moved out 3 boxes of English books and 2 of Latvian.

I should not need to visit a books store in the near future, as I found plenty of books I have not read and want to read - both in English and Latvian. My nightstand is now full of options. I also keep books by my favorite people in my bedroom. My recent English language books are in a shelf with the potential to give away to friends, if they would like them. I always wanted to be able to point to a shelf for visiting kids that like to read and say "See if you can find something you like." So now I have a young adult and children's shelf. The rest is in categories - encyclopedias, dictionaries, books about Latvia and the Balts, Latvian publishing and literature, about Baltic communities in the diaspora, Baltic libraries, nature, folk designs, art, folklore, music, coffee table books, literature, book for teaching Latvian school, travel. I did a rough count and figure over 500 books in Latvian, a bit under 250 in English. Remember, most of the books in this blog I have listened to on tape that I just borrowed, and some of the books I actually checked out of a library, like a good librarian should.

And then there is the basement and boxes in corners of the house that have more books. I estimate at least 2000 down in the basement - the family Latvian literature and other book collection, my previous collections including a substantial science-fiction & fantasy collection in bags, and the remnants of the Latvian Studies Center collection, plus boxes that people have given me. I can't go anywhere before I haven't gone through all of that, so I have my work cut out for me, but seeing the results from getting the small upstairs collection in order, I have confidence that it can be done.

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