Can the Minimalist Trend Help Libraries Thrive?

Libraries and Minimalism

Consumerism in the book blogosphere can often feel rampant, with some bloggers admitting to feeling inadequate because they cannot purchase enough books to keep up with all the new releases, or to make rainbow shelves for nothing else than to take photos for Instagram.  With an emphasis on book hauls, box subscriptions, and the latest hyped titles, the book blogosphere can make using the library seem, well, lackluster.  But minimalism seems to be making a comeback and this just  might be the time for the library to shine.

Marie Kondo’s methods for creating a minimalist home were so popular earlier this year that some news outlets reported thrift stores receiving an overwhelming number of donations.  Perhaps the trend for downsizing has ended since Kondo’s Netflix show first aired.  But perhaps her methods could have staying power that have people constantly reassessing how many purchases they really need to make.  If so, the library could be perfectly poised to take advantage of people’s new desire to keep things simple.

Books can quickly take up plenty of space, and they can prove difficult to dust, difficult to pack, and difficult to move.  So there is something to be said for choosing only the books that mean the most and donating the rest so someone else can enjoy them.  The wonderful thing about libraries, though, is that they mean that no book is ever really gone.  A person can simply go to the library and check out a book whenever they like (or use interlibrary loan if their home library does not have a copy).  And there is no worry of books creeping over the floor, across the table, and down the stairs as the purchases pile up, because the books have to go back.

Of course, many people like living in homes where books are stacked up in every corner.  (I donate a large number of my books, but still currently have a stack next to the bed, a stack on the floor, a bunch in the closet where clothes should be, and some more “artistically” scattered around.)  But if minimalism becomes the next hot trend, perhaps libraries could experience a surge in patronage.  And maybe book bloggers will be at the front of the movement.

21 thoughts on “Can the Minimalist Trend Help Libraries Thrive?

  1. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I think that if you have a great library, buying books is really not necessary, especially if it’s just for the aesthetic. And if you’re in a country with a lot of ebook support (like America), then you don’t even have to borrow books from the library to reduce the number of physical books you own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I limit my purchases to new releases I’m really excited about or that the library doesn’t own. Then I often end up donating my book to the library because I don’t have space for too many volumes, and I’d rather someone else have the chance to read it, rather than keep it on my shelf. I’m all for purchasing books to support publishers and authors, of course. But, for me, there needs to be a balance because I can only afford and fit so many books.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Same! Also, I don’t really have money to buy all the books I read. And it’s nice to support the library so they can hopefully get a bigger materials budget one day and buy more books.

      Like

  2. Grab the Lapels says:

    So, I read this while doing my shift at the library, so I told my co-worker, a librarian, about your article. We got into a conversation about how neither of us really keep books. I feel like the desire to keep books is more of a book blogger thing than an average reader thing. There are patrons whose accounts I see with 20+ books checked out. Readers read. Collectors collect. I don’t think we should conflate the two, suggesting owning books is a badge of honor. Also, books will have teeny bugs in them: https://grabthelapels.com/2016/05/29/books/

    Like

  3. shanayatales says:

    I have always been a minimalist, even before it was cool to be one. Mostly because too much stuff made me uneasy.

    But books were the exception to the rule, so I did have a decent sized collection. Or so I thought, until I started blogging about books that is. Only to realize that my “decent sized collection” was a joke. Then came the feelings of inadequacy.

    But now I guess I have simply stopped caring? And flaunt those library books on bookstagram. It might not be the cool thing to do, but hey it is a win for my budget as well as sanity. 🙂

    Like

  4. Enobong says:

    I went on a book buying embargo to save money and in preparation for moving countries and I haven’t really gotten back into the habit of buying books since them. I take full advantage of my library, reserving a lot of things prior to their release date and only buy books I really want love. It’s amazing. I love feeling less cluttered.

    However, my husband doesn’t realise that this is a version of me that is less cluttered and keeps wanting me to get rid of even more books.

    Like

  5. Julianna @ Paper Blots says:

    This is so interesting! I think that minimalism could be actually amazing for libraries, and that would be so cool if it actually impacted people (in the US) to start using their libraries instead of purchasing books. I’ve seen a lot of booktubers decide to marie kondo their shelves, too!

    Like

  6. ireadthatinabook says:

    I wrote a blog post with the opposite argument a while ago, discussing why I do want to surround myself with books https://ireadthatinabook.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/memories-around-book/ .

    Of course that is not to say that I believe that we ought to own every book we ever read even if we could afford it. The majority of the books I read I’m done with after the first read, those books I would preferably get from the library or Project Gutenberg, saving my precious bookshelf space for the books that really matter to me. Unfortunately I don’t use the library so much these days, although I used to in my student days, but that is mostly because given the choice of buying a book or reading in Norwegian, which is what my library mainly stocks, I usually opt for buying and then passing it along if it’s not special.

    I completely agree that the consumerism pressure in the book blogging world is unfortunate. I’m kind of glad that the local copyright laws makes it problematic to publish photos of book covers, forcing me to be more creative in my use of illustration photos, otherwise I probably would have fallen into the bookstagram trap when I first started blogging.

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    • Krysta says:

      I think I’ve donated half my books at this point and I still have piles upon them–so I understand! I love being around books, too! But I agree there should be balance. If you love your books, great! Keep them! If you’re not really using them and won’t ever reread or look at them again, maybe they’ll be better used if you donate them.

      Interesting about the copyright laws! I think Bookstagram is kind of strange on some level since you are just taking a picture of a cover everyone’s seen? People do a great job and take pretty photos. I’m just wondering how this trend started.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I do know a few people who are ‘minimalist’ when it comes to books; they aren’t re-readers and don’t see the point in owning a book they’ll only use once. I recently read an article on the related topic of the rise of sharing economies and how libraries might attract users because of that. I can imagine that marketing could brew up a good campaign around these concepts…

    Like

  8. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    hehe very much relate to having stacks of books everywhere, despite donating loads as well 😉 I think it would be great if more people used libraries because of this surge in minimalism. I know that a lot of people struggle to keep up with trends and I think it’s important that more people know that reading can be affordable (and it’s always possible to keep up with trends as well, because surprisingly enough, libraries stock popular new books 😉 )

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I understand some bloggers think blogging should be free. But my blogging basically is free. I don’t pay for hosting and I get almost all my books at the library. I just need Internet and a device to access it (also available at the library). As far as hobbies go, reading and blogging have to be among the cheapest options.

      Liked by 1 person

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Really agree with that- I also don’t pay for the domain and get most books from the library or second hand. Very much agree! I think it’s a shame some people see some big booktubers or bookstagram accounts and think that they have to keep up with that- when they really don’t.

        Like

    • Krysta says:

      Sometimes I buy books, read them, and then donate them to the library so I’m not overwhelmed by books everywhere. I think this could be a trend! And, of course, it’s nice to be able to borrow the books and just give them back!

      Like

  9. The Busy Mom Cafe says:

    I used to love the idea of filling my home with great books. Not anymore. I just recently donated a huge portion of my books. Now I only buy the books I intend to write on the pages (work-related or self-help mostly). All other books I now get at the library.

    Like

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