Organizing Tips I Learned in the Library

by O Quinn

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Before becoming a mother, I spent ten wonderful years working in a small specialty library. One thing you learn from working in a library is that libraries are the ultimate source for frugal organizing. Librarians by nature are a very organized group and the usual funding issues libraries face create an optimal environment for the best in organizing on a shoestring. In addition to working hard, I learned many ways to stretch supplies. Here are the top five frugal organizing ideas I learned on the job:

Frugal Laminating: Working in a small specialty library, we just never had funds for a laminating machine, but we had the need. My colleague came up with this ingenious way to laminate most anything. You will need a roll of clear packing tape and scissors. Tape both sides of your item and cut off excess. Viola!

Reuse Those Envelopes: Do you receive envelopes from your library in the mail? Don't throw them out. Carefully pull the staples out. Use a small exacto knife to carefully remove any labeling. If there is writing on the envelope itself, either cross it out neatly with a black permanent marker or cover with your new label.

Make Your Own Labels: Like labels? You can make your own. We used to do this with mailings. Since the item we were mailing came with the address already formatted on it, we would just cut it out, and using the packaging tape, tape it to the envelope. It was waterproof and neat!

Make Your Own Note Pad: The amount of paper used in a library can make trees weep. One way in which this is compensated for is reusing the paper. Since I had student workers, I would have them gather stacks of already printed on paper, turn it over, cut it into fourths and then place small stacks by each of the computers at the employees' desks and also at the public terminals. We would also staple small stacks together for mini notepads.

More Uses for Pre-Owned Paper: Librarians have to do a lot of printing for their own records or just in researching a topic for a client. To squeeze a second use out of paper, we would stick the paper in the printer upside down. Be careful with sensitive information but otherwise use that neglected backside of your paper.

The next time you are in your public library take a look at the librarian's desk. See if she isn't using a frugal technique that could benefit you too.

Visit O Quinn on the web at and drop by her store at for Household Notes - a Housekeeping Planner on CD, which includes fillable forms.

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