How to move a library in 8 steps

On October 16 two very big things happen in my world.

The first is that we settle on a beautiful 1950s cottage near Wollongong. I’ve been renting for 22 years so finally owning a property is pretty damn exciting.

The second is that the hearing recommences for that very bad thing that we’re not talking about.

I’m glad these two things are happening on the same day, for many, many reasons. But that’s not why I’m here. Why I’m here is to show you how I move my library.

I have a lot of books. And I’ve moved them a lot of times. Eighteen times, to be precise. Since this is hopefully going to be the last library move for a while, I’ve decided to tell you how I do it. Everything I tell you below, comes from the many, many mistakes I’ve made over the years.

Step 1: Get the shit you need


Tape and a tape gun. A tape gun is your best friend when it comes to packing books. You are going to use a lot of tape and finding/losing/finding scissors the whole time is really freaking irritating. Get the best tape you can afford (not the shitty stuff pictured here) or it will rip every time you pull on the gun. Bear brand from Bunnings (what’s on the gun) works a dream.

Boxes, lots and lots of boxes. Alcohol boxes are best. Removalists might be able to handle bigger boxes, but you’re going to have to carry them a lot (at both ends of the move). An average 6 bottle wine box full of books weighs 6-9kgs and your back will love you for this. The boxes they sell ‘for books’ at storage places end up easily twice that. Most bottle shops keep a stack of wine boxes handy though I’ve just discovered how great champagne boxes are, so try hitting up a big place.

Food and drink. It’s important to stay ‘hydrated’.

Step 2: Sort your boxes and books


Sort your boxes from biggest to smallest and your books into groups of the same size. I used to try to keep fiction and reference separate, but it’s easiest to combine them. When I rule the universe, all books will be the same size.

Working with flat boxes will give you more room to move, trust me.

If you have my kind of library, you will have a bunch of odd-shaped/sized books. Put them together in one place to fill gaps later on.

Step 3: Protect your books


If some of your boxes have a gap at the bottom and top, stop tape from ripping your covers by using those previously useless bits of cardboard that hold the wine bottles in place to cover the bottom and top of the box.

If you have old and fragile books, wrap them in towels before packing.

Step 4: Start putting them in boxes


This is where it gets ‘fun’. Measure the boxes before you just start throwing books in. Use the flat box to see if big books will fit, and the made up box for smaller books. If you’re lucky, you’ll get two stacks to fit side by side or hit the jackpot and get a box that perfectly fits your current stack.

Keep doing boxes that fill easily till you run out of them.

Step 5: Find ways to fit them in boxes


Once they stop fitting easily, you’ll need to get creative. Law books, I’ve just discovered, are a bitch to pack.

Slide smaller and bigger books into the sides to get the boxes full. Or if that doesn’t work, pad out extra bits with either balled up newspaper or plastic shopping bags. You want to have the boxes packed tight to stop the stacks of boxes toppling over later.

Step 6: Tape all the edges


Taping every single hole in your boxes will stop bugs, dust and grit getting into the boxes. You will be happy about this when you unpack them.

Step 7: Stack them by carton size near the front door


Pretty much every move I’ve ever done has started with the books. Your movers will love you if they’re in stacks that don’t fall over and as close to the front door as you can get them. They put the stacks on trolleys and line them up at the back of the truck.

Step 8: Crack another drink, you’ve earned it

The missus and I have 39 boxes. This is after a major cull before/during/after my last move.

You might have noticed I didn’t talk about labelling the boxes? Gave up on that ages ago. The RSI from writing ‘books’ 39 times isn’t worth it. The only boxes labelled in this stack are the ones with Uni readers, because they’ll be the last unpacked, otherwise I just assume anything in an alcohol box is a book.

Think of me on the 16th.

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