The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the Library

Many of you may have now watched the series, read the book or manga of The Life-Changing  Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Both the book and manga are in my selection areas at my public library job. . .I have read them, but then I watched the Netflix series. I WANT to love it. If you saw my house, I NEED to love it . . .but it gives me anxiety. Pile all my clothes on my bed!? Yikes. I have a serious cardigan and dress and library related t-shirt  collection. 

Thinking about this however, I realized that over the years I have embraced the life-changing art of weeding. While my house is not in the best shape (I work two jobs, have 2 kids and 4 dogs) my library is different. Clearing shelves to look neat, clean and orderly is transforming for the library space, and my sanity at work. At my last middle school we completely transformed the library and genre-fied. Yes. It was AMAZING. My circulation stats increased by 175%. I did weed over 3,000 books from when I started in the process.  

So you might be wondering how you can apply Kondo’s style magic to the library? Well, if you haven’t seen the series, she has people go through each item in their giant pile of stuff by hand. They carefully pick up the item and decide if it brings them joy right now. If it does it stays, if it doesn’t they say ‘thank you’ to the item and place it in a pile.  Sounds like weeding, right?

Many of our texts in the library  do not currently bring our school joy. I am sure at one time they did, and that is why we say ‘thank you.’ I have had to weed some of my personal favorites, or purchases I clearly remember which is tough.  The good ones I can usually get into the hands of my kids through book talking.  Often, I will make the judgement if the book hasn’t circ-ed that it might be the condition. I love when my favorite authors re-release update covers of their books. Have you seen the new Lurlene McDaniels covers? Kids will eat that stuff up over John Green when they see fresh copies.

Many times books pre-date my service to the building so it is really not that difficult for me to part with texts.  Sometimes teachers that have been in the building for a while. I am getting better at this awkward encounter of “Why are you throwing away books?”  Teachers say this, and they haven’t even used them in years. I usually use the it hasn’t been checked out in 5 years answer. But, I have been better at follow up conversations with those teachers. It goes something like, ‘I would be glad to help you find updated similar resources. We could look into print or digital for any subject that would support your curriculum.’

Then, of course, I try to donate what I can so that maybe that book will bring joy to someone else. In closing, I have one final thought on this subject. My assistants in the library are actually my secret life-changing magic. They maintain order, bring stability and can always spot where I left my coffee cup. Without them, lots of tidying up in the library would not happen.

7 thoughts on “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the Library”

  1. So funny. I just blogged about the same exact thing! My thoughts were honed on the benefits of learning how to “evaluate” things and in general. (
    I liked reading your librarian perspective of this “book purging process”. I was picturing the shelf-clearing from a personal, book-loving point of view, and was horrified by the prospect! As I read your message, I began to think about my classroom library. Yes, that actually DOES NEED some tidying up. When I began teaching, I thought I needed a robust classroom library, so I went to used book stores and bought an army of texts. There are tons that no one has ever opened and others that truthfully aren’t worth opening. Perhaps I’ll take the concept that I blogged about—evaluating—and teach it through having students help “tidy up” our classroom library. We could pile them in the middle of the floor and take a week to categorize, rate, and donate.

  2. I forgot to mention how much I liked the idea of weeding. This metaphor helped my paradigm-shift a lot. While I could use my power of creativity to justify keeping just about any book, I will not even try to justify certain weeds growing in my garden! Get out!
    Thanks for providing such a thought-provoking post.

  3. Hello!

    I too have read The LIfe-Changing Magic of Tidying it Up. I’m an avid “tidy it upper.” My daughter has joked that it’s a hobby of mine. I love how you are applying the main principles that Marie Kondo offers in her book and how into different aspects of your life. I think it’s a great idea that you are thinking about the organization of your school library this way. What better way to help students discover books they will enjoy!! Sometimes, it is difficult for them, especially those reluctant readers, to latch on to a book at all, so the more we can help in an indirect yet impactful way (such as book displays with enticing, new books) the more we help our students grow!!

    Happy blogging, awesome to see a librarian’s persective and Happy New Year to you!

  4. Interesting post here! I watched the preview of the Netflix show, but I haven’t taken the time to watch an episode. I’m currently catching up on Daredevil and Gotham, but I’ll get around to it.

    Didn’t know that the series was based on a manga title..??! That’s good to know. I’m glad that you’re a Media Center Specialist that’s not afraid of pruning library titles! We need more folks like you in our school systems.

    Keep up the great work.

  5. Love your post! Marie Kondo has a manga version of her book? That one I may have to buy.

    Absolutely awesome having your circ stats go up that much when you genrefied. I have been reticent to do so as I would have a hard time with some books as they would fit in multiple places. Do you have a post on how you made those decisions?

    1. Great idea! Maybe this will be my next post for #blogging28 challenge Thurs. I have a few different suggestions.

  6. What a terrific way to entice those students to engage with a new book. It is deceptively simple to get bogged down in an old paradigm and keep our shelves set up the way they have always been sorted. Your efforts (as well as your assistants) are inspired. Presentation is everything in today’s attention shifting dynamic. Kudos to change on the shelves!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *