Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Downsizing The Home Media Collection, Part 1

By Dennis D. McDonald

Over the weekend I “weeded” our home book collection. We’re remodeling both our living room and dining room in anticipation of our daughter coming home later this year from the Peace Corps. We’re reducing the number of linear shelf feet devoted to books, CD’s, and DVD’s as we change things around a bit and as we adjust to the increasing importance of digital media.

I went to our neighborhood wine store where the owner was happy to let me fill the back of our SUV with empty beer and wine boxes — just the thing for packaging things up. We filled 12 boxes with “used books” that are now looking for a home.

I thought the book weeding process would be difficult. It wasn’t. It wasn’t too hard to identify easy to delete stuff – old SF paperbacks with yellowing pages, used hardcover novels from years ago I never read, get-rich-quick and how-to-invest schemes from past decades. I even let go of some “classics” that just haven’t aged well. I said goodbye to old Russian Literature paperbacks that are cracked or yellowed with age. I loved them once but as keepsakes they just aren’t worth keeping around.

It was easy to decide what to keep. My shelf full of books by and about George Orwell. The nature guides and Encyclopedia Britannica that once belonged to my Dad. My science and technology books. Several feet of aeronautical and military history books, including some early books about jet aircraft I remember reading when I was a little kid going to the public library. And of course all the books about art, music, and movies, along with all the gardening and landscaping books.

Some haven’t held up well, unfortunately. The Time-Life series on home construction and repair, which I studied and used intensively when we were remodeling and expanding the house when the kids were little, were not well constructed and are falling apart. I’m reluctant to part with them, though. Much of the information is still relevant and the illustrations are crystal clear.

Next I turn attention to the hundreds of music CD’s and DVD’s in the living room. Housed in the specially constructed shelves that we’re taking down, I have to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Many of the CD’s I’ve digitized, just as I’ve digitized many of my older LP’s. I still have a hard time believing I bought all this music that I never listen to anymore. Did I really listen to that much “smooth jazz”?  Yuck! 

The same goes for the DVD’s. I am a movie fanatic but most I just watched once. That will teach me and has led me to seriously approach Blu-ray technology with a jaundiced eye.

At one time I thought I’d never be able to give up physical media but I’m finding that not to be the case. Times change and alternatives are available. We still regularly use the public library, we still occasionally buy books, but we’ll probably invest in a Kindle soon, and I’ll probably still keep listening to the dozen or so podcasts I follow religiously.

Plus, we now get to decide what type of art work to hang on the wall with all this new space we’re opening up!

Copyright © 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald 

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