The place where I write is surrounded with books. There are more books in the next room, in boxes and piled on tables. There are shelves of books in the garage. There are documents going back to the 1950s. There are also boxes of artifacts. What is all this stuff?
To call it a library is not quite accurate. It is a collection of things, yet only in the loosest sense of the word. I set up my desk when we moved in, the same place it is today, before electricity was connected to the structure. Things collected here the way flotsam washes to shore. There is little agency in the word “collection” as applied to my place.
“Archives” doesn’t get it right either. In a corner is a tree trunk from the pine tree that grew outside my window during the 1960s. On top of it I pile each bill as it comes in and is paid. The stack of papers is 16 inches tall. When someone wants a document, I say it is filed on the stump. A stump is not a filing system, they say. I don’t argue the point.
As a newly minted septuagenarian I’m concerned with a couple of things.
When I die, I want people to be able to find relevant things, such as my will, whether I paid the last electricity bill, the title to the automobile, and a list of my computer passwords: an archive of the exigency of now. This is a given, it exists, and can be improved upon.
There are too many books to read or to pass on to someone else to sort through. A sorting has begun. A library is a place to find something specific. As needs change, so should the contents. Getting rid of many books and papers is common courtesy to my survivors. I try to be courteous. It is difficult to find things if I’ve forgotten what I have. This can be a problem when considering what I leave behind.
Mainly I want quick access to books and papers I need for my writing. Egads! I’m not there and time’s a wasting! Archival materials would describe this if I had taken time to archive everything, which I have not. I’d like to get the collection to a manageable size, one that would fit in a single room. Once I get there I may call it a home library and be justified in doing so. For the time being, it is what it is and the word “library” is not an accurate fit.
It is a place to work. A place of my own. That will have to suffice for now.
One reply on “What is a Home Library?”
You seem to have found what really matters, Paul!
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