Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Shelf space

For Christmas this year my husband Ken and I gave each other shelf space. We ordered a tall narrow bookcase to fit in a corner of our living room, in a nook of space once occupied by a steam radiator. Some years ago we had thought of building a bookcase there, but hadn't followed through on the idea. Now we have a lovely Amish-built bookcase and the fun of deciding what to put on these new shelves.

My office upstairs for years has been crammed with file cabinets, computer table and desk (all cluttered with paper), and a wall of built-in shelves filled with books, photo albums, music CDs, and notebooks relating to various projects. Too much stuff! Too many on-going projects!  How will I ever find space to accommodate the Pine Knoll family history project that my cousin Janet wishes to pass to me? That thought has been on my mind constantly since Thanksgiving. (See my previous posts: "Old treasures" and "Love letters"). I want to accept her offer, but questions of where to put her books and files have prompted me to look critically at my bookshelves. The DANVERS section on that wall will have to expand. Or, I will need to find another place for the Pine Knoll files. For a while I considered a table in the "yellow room" (a wide hallway near laundry and bathroom) or the shelves above that, but roof leaks there have sometimes spoiled what I leave on that table.

The anticipated arrival of a beautiful new bookcase prompted us to take a fresh look at EVERYTHING we store on shelves in this house, where we've lived for 17 years. An entire revolution of our accumulated stuff is in progress! What merits display in the new case?  What has served its purpose and could be given away or tossed?  I was happy to discover that several shelves full of accumulated magazines --which I'd wanted to keep permanently-- are now accessible on DVD or online. I've had fun donating some physical magazines to a local literacy program, which was delighted to accept them. Each shelf that I empty spurs me on. I've discovered a much better place to store our photo albums (which no longer need room for expansion, thanks to our switch in 2004 to digital photo storage). In the attic Ken found extra boards (shelves) belonging to an older bookcase in the living room, allowing us to insert extra shelves closely spaced -- just right for our music CDs, which had previously been scattered in various locations.

By now we have filled the bottom of the new bookcase with children's books and board games. We're still experimenting with what to put on the top shelves.  EMPTY shelves are visible now in several rooms, and the piles of books to be reshelved are dwindling. I rejoice at this progress!

In my office, I've begun re-arranging the books so that all the Danvers-related items (mine plus what I'll receive from Janet) can be together in one tall (floor to ceiling), narrow (20" width) section of shelving.

I found a stepladder and began to tackle the highest shelves, including long-neglected, dusty old volumes inherited from my father's family.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but ... ?

Oh!  A book published in 1852!

A shelf of 19th century books with old family names written inside 
-- very similar to the classic found recently in California. 

Another surprising find, right in my own house! Undoubtedly these all came from Pine Knoll in Danvers. I'll write more about these old books in a future post.

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