Moving a Library: Tips for Packing Books

I like to think this is a topic I have some authority on. I’ve moved four times in the last three years: the curse of a student, in my opinion.

From res to my first apartment to my second apartment to my parents house, and now, my parents are moving, and thus I am moving. Again.


Every time I move I realize how many books I have. I never meant to have such a big collection, it just kind of happened. Most of them are from a local thrift store, which prices books that you’d usually see for $25 for $2. So you see, it’s not my fault, really.

For the longest time, I’d left the bulk of my books at my parent’s house, but then last year, I moved into my second apartment and had like space and I thought to myself, this is it. I’ve had this vision ever since I read that one scene in The Infernal Devices where Tessa sees Will’s room for the first time and is just struck by the sheer amount of books (a scene I cannot quote right now because my copy is packed, ugh), well I’ve always thought that was what my apartment would be like. People would walk in and think: books.

I thought I’d be in that apartment for a few years at least, but then this Spring some unforeseeable health problems arose, and I couldn’t be living on my own anymore.

Packing them was decidedly not fun, and resulted in more than one small fight between my brother and I (Him: “They’re just books” Me: “They are not just books“).

BUT, I learned some things. And this time, when I packed all my books up for the move next week, it went smoothly.

So, without further ado, I present:

EK’s guide to packing books
so they won’t be damaged
and neither will your relationships
with non-bookworms:

1. Donate.

Before you even get started on packing, share a long look with your shelves and ask yourself: do I need this copy of a weirdly-specific memoir my great aunt got me for Christmas seven years ago that I never even read? I’m a sentimental person, but even I know that the answer should probably be no. Remember, don’t throw them out! You can often donate books to thrift stores, libraries (including schools!), or even put them in a ‘free to a good home’ box.

2. Make a STBR (Soon To Be Read) pile.

So when my mum and I were packing my books last week, I made a little pile of ones I’d be needing in the next two weeks that would go into my suitcase.

Funny thing about my mum: she gets wrapped up in a task pretty easily. Which is great when you need help packing your library of books up, but not so great when the pile of ‘books to be packed’ encroaches on the pile of ‘books not to be packed’.

So yeah. She packed the books I meant to keep out, and we didn’t realize until everything had been taped like no tomorrow (my family used to own a hardware store, so those boxes were taped shut). But that’s okay, we ended up laughing a lot. And when in doubt: libraries.

3. Remember the ‘LLLL rule’ (it sounds dumb but alliteration helps memory, okay?): Lit loves lots of little boxes.

 You don’t want to fill a giant box with books because literally no one will be able to carry it. Instead, pack lots of smaller boxes, make the few extra trips, and save your (or someone else’s) back. If you must use larger boxes, only fill them about 60% with books.

4. Use common sense.

There are lots of weirdly daunting articles out there on how to *professionally* pack books – where to face the spine, whether to stack upright or horizontally, and awful combinations of more options than you knew existed. The straightforward version is this: Do what you want, but do not, under any circumstances, pack books (particularly paperbacks) with the pages facing down. They will be smushed. It sounds like common sense, but I watched my brother pack some of my books like this only a month ago. The sound I made wasn’t human. So listen to me: Do. Not. Do. It.

5. Last but not least, use booze boxes.

This sounds so weird. I’m aware of that. But hear me out.

LCBO stores in Canada have a section of empty boxes that the store’s alcohol was shipped to them in, and even though they’re really for people who need something a little sturdier than a paper bag for their booze-haul, the cashiers don’t usually mind if you take some without context, because they’re just going to get recycled anyway.

PSA: These babies are the perfect size for books. Each brand varies by a few inches, so you can actually sort your books by size and then pile them in, no bubblewrap or filler necessary. They’re even small enough that they abide by the LLLL rule.

So, those are my tips for moving a library-worth of books! Hopefully this can help you (at some point) save some of your lovely reads from moving-related damage. I’d love to hear if anyone has any tips of their own! Has anyone discovered the magic of booze boxes before? Let me know by leaving a comment!




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I'm Emma Kath. Welcome to my blog! This is where I post my original book reviews, litstyle (lifestyle for the lit-nerd), and other bookish things. A little about me: I'm Canadian, and currently a student majoring in English lit and cultural studies. I'm an introvert (INFJ, if you believe in that sort of thing), sarcastic to the bone, I love art and history, and hope to one day travel around a bit. Until then, I'll be reading, writing, and trying to spread a little kindness around the internet. If you have any questions or inquiries, feel free to contact me!

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