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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Books – Organizing Our Personal Libraries

This article by Natalie Conrad of Organized Habits, and a Paper Tiger Expert, gives us some great tips in how to get our books organized – whether we have just a few or a major library.  As you’ll see, Natalie also recommends Paper Tiger Filing System Software for Document Management to inventory your books — it’s not just for filing paper!

Organized Habits, Make Room for Life

I am a book lover.  I love to read and I love to own books.  I have 3 bookcases in my home that are stocked with books I’ve collected – favorite authors, books on my hobbies, leisure reading, bible studies, and books that show me how to do things (like remodel the bathroom).  There are certain books I will have forever and others that will be with me for just a little while.  Can you relate?

Even though we can now listen to audio books and have books on e-readers, there will still be books on my shelves.  Many of my clients and friends, particularly teachers and researchers, have tons more books than I do. So how do you organize the books you have?  As I see it, before starting to organize, there are 2 main questions to be answered.

  1. Do you know what you’ve got?
  2. How do you want it to be organized?

What Books Do You Have?

Walk through your home or office and make a quick list of the kind of books you have.  List genres, favorite authors,  types of research books, manuals and textbooks, collector’s editions, etc.  You are not listing the book titles here, just getting a handle on what kind of books you have. Take note of how they are currently organized.  Are there certain bookshelves for certain kinds of books or are the books intermingled in multiple locations?

How Do You Want Your Books Organized?

Now that you have taken stock of your book inventory, let’s create your vision; a plan for how you want your books to be organized.  Here’s a few ideas:

  • Sort by genre and assign a shelf or an entire bookcase to a particular genre.
  • Purge books you know you do not plan to read or reference again.
  • Showcase your prized book collection (leather bound or author series) in a prominent location to be a part of your home or office decor.
  • Put books where you will use them.  For example, you may put all of your gardening books in the den, near a patio, for quick and easy reference. Your research books and text books can be stored in the office/home library or even in a closed cabinet.
  • Create a basket next to your bed or favorite reading chair.  Fill it with the books you are currently reading or plan to read next.
  • Create an inventory of your books.  I recommend using the Paper Tiger filing system software for this.  It allows you to search key words and categories.  You can also print out a list of books for insurance purposes.

If your current system is working, then that’s fine – do not change a thing (except maybe inventory them with Paper Tiger). Leave a comment and share what you do to manage your library of books or what you are planning to do to better organize it.  If you have further questions about Paper Tiger software, I’m a trained consultant and would be happy to help.

Natalie Conrad is an organization consultant, speaker, and author in Northern California. She is also the founder of Organized Habits, a premier organizing firm, serving national and local clients in homes and small business settings.  She is passionate about organizing as she believes that the clutter holds one back from pursuing their life long goals and dreams. Visit Natalie’s blog for more articles like this by going to

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4 Responses to “Books – Organizing Our Personal Libraries”

  1. Judith Bridgehall says:

    Once sorted into groupings how do you transfer that to Paper Tiger so you can find what you need when you need it? I moved 2 yrs ago and still find myself running around looking for that book that’s “somewhere”!
    I use Paper Tiger successfully for documents.
    Help with that next step would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  2. Janet Baker says:

    The next step after sorting your books into the type groupings or categories that you’d like to have them placed would be to create a Location in Paper Tiger named Books. Then begin with the first group of books and type in the title of the book as the item name in Paper Tiger and any keywords you’d like to input, such as author and what the book is about. You can use the Category section to assign each book to a category. Categories can be the type of book, for instance, Cookbooks, Gardening, Marketing, Poetry, Inspirational, etc. You would number each book to coincide with the item number in Paper Tiger, either by placing a label printed out from Paper Tiger or by permanent marker on the spine of the book. If you had 100 books, in this example, your different groups or categories of books would be numbered 1-100. New books would be added to number 101 going forward.

    Another example, if you wanted to always keep like categories together, you could have a separate database in Paper Tiger named Books. Then the Locations could be named as the type of books. In this example, you might have a Location named Cookbooks, and the Item Name in Paper Tiger would the title of the book, add any keywords you’d like to add that you think you might search on later, such as the author’s name and maybe favorite recipes in each book; or if a different type of book, what the book is about.

    Hopefully that makes sense! Thanks for the great question!….Janet

  3. Sylvia says:

    Janet…i’m just getting started with Ppaer Tiger and i am very excited to finally get my stuff under control and useable.

    when i started i set up databases and then locations in that.

    so for books i am thinking I’ll do a database for work office books and the locations would be the specific shelf in a specific bookcase. like: tall bookcase top shelf or in my home office: database: home office books: Location: Large bookcase on west wall. top shelf.

    does this make sense to you?

  4. Janet Baker says:

    Yes your plan of action makes sense to me, but more importantly, it makes sense to you and how you want to get them organized into Paper Tiger. One thing to mention is that you cannot search across databases. So if you would not have a book that would cross over to your home from your office, then you should be fine. Either way, when you pull a book from wherever the shelf may be, you could always note in Paper Tiger that you have it and where. Happy organizing your stuff under control! Thanks! Janet

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