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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Making the Most of the Space You Have

It's a law of nature


Stuff expands to fill space


cluttered one-room library

Downsize, edit, reduce

If you are bursting at the seams with stuff, think about how much of your stuff you really need. Many librarians keep everything, because they might need it "someday."

In library school, we learned about the difference between two models: "Just in Case" and "Just in Time."

This can apply to more than just collections. It can apply to stuff.

It's a hard fact: our spaces are too valuable to use them for storage of things we don't really need.

Embrace your inner toddler: say NO

Librarians tend to do more with less; to present a good face to the public, and to minimize problems. We have to learn that we can’t be all things to all people, and we have to prioritize. We have to learn to embrace our inner toddler and say NO.

  • No to the nice old lady that wants to donate her beloved collection of tchotchkes.
  • No to the outraged patron who demands that we never weed old, out-of-date or unused items from the collection because a book is a precious object.
  • No to the children’s librarian who keeps 20-year-old decorations, toys and craft supplies because she might be able to use them someday.