Arranging and Unpacking Your Library

This is the third post in a series on moving.

So, you’ve packed your books and schlepped ’em to the new place. Now what? If you’re anything like me, you now have a bunch of bookcases that haven’t been put where they go, and an enormous pile of boxes.

Prep Work

Get all your bookcases arranged. If they’re not level, or are leaning dangerously out into the room, you can pick up some wood shims from a local hardware store. Shims are basically thing wedges of wood, and you can stick ’em under the front of your bookcase to help level them. I used to use cardboard, but found that it compacted pretty severely, especially once the bookcases were full. So, wood is the way to go!


If you were super meticulous and labelled all your book boxes, you can pretty easily put all the boxes near the bookcases where they’ll go. Easy peasy. If you didn’t, you have a couple strategy options: just go box-by-box and unpack them as you open them, or open them all and put them where they go, then unpack. Whatever works for you.


I’ve already done a whole series of posts on organizing my library, and the same principles hold. The most important thing is knowing how you want your books organized. Everything beyond that is basically little tricks to make things easier.

A trick I used with my latest organization is wooden dividers for sections in my nonfiction bookshelf. I didn’t have to label the shelves, I had wooden dividers with the section names on them (huzzah for labelmakers!), and I could just move them around as the books got put away and started taking up space. I went to my local lumber store, bought a sheet of 3/4″ plywood, and had them mill it into 6″x6″ squares. I used veneer strips to make the edges look nicer, but that’s not really necessary.


Demco also offers some spiffy dividers that double as bookends, holding up your books while also labeling the section. They have a ton of dividers in general, so check out their selection! Library supply stores are a bibliophile’s best friend.

One thing to watch for when unloading: bending over to pick up books from a box on the floor and then reaching up to put them away is really hard on your back over time. Stack boxes or find something to put them on so your books are at about waist height. Your back will thank you later, believe me!

Time to Relax!

There are few things so satisfying as a bookcase you’ve just filled and organized. Line your books up (remember to pull them toward the front of the bookcase so air can circulate behind them, it helps prevent mold, bugs, and other nasty stuff), take a photo or two, and put your feet up!

The fourth and final post in this series will be up in a bit. Stay tuned. Be sure you’re subscribed to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter, so you won’t miss it!