Monday, December 8, 2014

Moving a Library, Stage Two

The devil is in the details, it is said, I suppose because details can be overwhelming and confusing. For some, however, details are the bearings which make life roll along smoothly, and by taking care of the little things, find the big things fall into place.

This is perhaps our perspective in managing to haul 17 thousand books from one location to another. Our last move was simply up a driveway and around a corner. This time there will be vehicles involved. Discerning the details, and determining their order, in this case is crucial to success. It is crucial in not getting ahead of ourselves and thus tripping ourselves up.

To continue our library-moving-saga... After we had settled on a place for the library, and outlined its space, and began to prepare the walls and floor, we had to think about how to move the books and keep them in order. As I have said here, order is everything, and especially when it comes to thousands of books. They cannot just be packed up in crates and unpacked and stacked on shelves. One of the beauties of our library is the Dewey Decimal system by which it is ordered, uniform little labels designating each book its own special spot. (May I note here that some people have been known to gasp in awe and wonder, even shed tears over the beauty of Emily's uniform labels marching tidily along the rows of books? Those are our kindred spirits. You know who you are.) Woe be to the child in our library who has no respect for those labels and shoves books in wherever a convenient spot appears. The primary rule in the library is, "Look all you want, remove any book you want, but whatever you do, do not put any book back on the shelf." Since we don't have paid employees who will read the shelves and pounce on any out of order book and restore it to its proper spot, the librarian is responsible and she takes that responsibility very seriously. There is only one thing sadder than not having a book that could be useful in the library, and that is, having the book in the library and not being able to find it.

Thus it behooved the librarian and her mother to put their heads together as to how to safely and carefully pack these treasured books so they will arrive undamaged to their new home and still keep some semblance of order so that re-shelving them would not take a year-and-a-half. We consulted other fellow homeschool librarians who have moved their libraries for help. One of them had packed her books exactly in order in identical boxes, numbered the boxes, and then simply lifted them out of the boxes and replaced them on their original shelves.

We had a problem here as our new space is larger and will be configured differently, so books will likely not be returning to their same bookshelves. Ingenious organizer that she is, and it goes without
saying that these kind of challenges are Emily's particular strong point, came up with a labeling system to put on the outside of each box. The books were to be packed securely and each box designated with the order it should be set on its new shelf.


If I haven't already bored you to tears, let me just say that last Monday was our first day to pack. We decided to close the library for December and the first part of January to give us time to move. The last visit each family made to the library was to precede a 10 week break, so we encouraged them all to bring extra covered bins and boxes to stock up well. They complied beautifully and we literally checked out a couple of thousand books. Thanks to their cooperation, we now had less boxes of books to pack.

We could not imagine how long it would take to move all these books, but Emily and I managed to get 31 boxes packed in the first three hours. We estimate that this is about 15% of the collection needed to be packed. While the rest of you are hustling and bustling to shop and wrap Christmas gifts, we will be snatching every opportunity to return again and again and continue till every single book is in its box. We plan to have a moving day for all the bookcases first, figuring that they will easily fill a moving truck. We will then arrange all the bookcases in their new home to our satisfaction and return another day to begin moving the boxes of books, bring them to the new library, and then tackle the daunting task of re-shelving thousands of volumes.


The sunny side of this task is that Emily will rest easily at night knowing all our books are put exactly right once before they are again in circulation.

Why do we do all this? Are we some kind of fanatics who have an absurd way of spending our life? Well undoubtedly there is truth in that accusation. We do it for the families who have discovered and continue to discover the incredible joy learning through living literature is; we do it out of respect for the authors who labored to write beautiful literature for others to live on long after they had put down their pens for the last time; we do it for the children whose lives lay before them with untold possibilities; and, most of all, we do it for the glory of God.

For the joy of reading,



  1. Wow, Liz! This is amazing! So much work for you both. And yet, even beneath the hard work, I sense the joy. Thank you for sharing your library journey. I look forward to reading about the next leg.

    1. Kimberlee,
      Yes, it is true, the work is often immense, but the rewards are immeasurable.