We have examined several ways to create an infrastructure (shelving, furniture and the like) for your private library. We have examined multiple ways to obtain books as inexpensively as possible for your private library. We have noted the distinction between accumulating books for your private library vs. collecting books for your private library. We have noted that the ultimate disposition of your library will garner far more interest from far more people if you build your private library as a collection rather than as an accumulation. And we have suggested that, in the end, you should ignore everyone else's opinion and buy what you please.
Now we're going to circle back a bit, because we want to nip in the bud any idea that a collection of books is necessarily going to be more expensive than an accumulation of books. All things being equal, if a collection costs about the same or (the shock! the horror!) even less than an accumulation of books, and if collections generally garner a lot more interest from a lot more people when you (or your heirs) finally dispose of your private library, why not go the collection route....?
As the various student book collecting competitions around the USA indicate, a very nice collection can be put together for very little money. Having observed these competitions for a number of years, I have found, time and again, that the key to creating a great collection for very little money is to collect materials that other people don't.
Example: the top three prize winners in the graduate division of the recent University of Alabama competition were:
- the "Grrrl Zine Collection,” which "studies the role of 'zines' in punk rock feminist movements of the 1990s"
- a collection "studying antebellum architecture and the author’s family roots in Natchez, Miss."
- a collection "which featured experimental books, chapbooks, magazines and journals"
The undergraduate winner of the same competition won with a collection that "traces the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ’60s."
What interests you? A collection that has something to do with your occupation? Or a beloved avocation? Something, perhaps, that "the critics" routinely dismiss? Whatever it is, if few other people appear to be collecting the types of books in which you're interested, you can easily build a formidable private library with very little money.
We are going to examine this concept in considerable detail over the next few posts. We will focus on three very different types of collections that can be built for very little money. One collection will involve a genre that gets very little respect from critics. Another will involve a subject that most folks likely would find to be a bit obscure. And the third will involve books that most folks probably think are well out of their price range, but aren't....if you use the tips and strategies we've outlined thus far.
It's unlikely that this approach will enable you to build a private library akin to the Long Room at Trinity College Library in Dublin (home to the Book of Kells), but it's a start.... :-)