Cut the Clutter Book Sprint

On Friday evening we have a special guest live with me. Anne Welsh. Fellow APDO member and Cataloguer. Bio in comms.

As part of her business Cut the Clutter, Marie Bateson runs a really supportive Facebook group as well as working directly with clients to declutter.

This week they’ve been having a sprint on dealing with books – including the hardest of all to part with: books with a sentimental association. It was really lovely to meet members of the group in tonight’s Facebook Live.

DeCluttrMe Podcast

DeCluttrMe 171

Last week I was interviewed by Shelina for her DeCluttrMe Podcast, which is one of the features of her hugely popular IGTV channel.

Shelina has been running a series on estate management, and so we talked mostly about creating inventories for insurance purposes and for wills. We also tackled the evergreen subjects of ‘What is cataloguing?’ and why it matters.

If you’re interested, you can watch the episode here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CTB_x1IgT5b

Unpacking Your Library

Unpacking Your Library

This post republishes a piece which was originally commissioned by myVLF and published on their blog as ‘Unpacking Your Library: 10 Top Tips to Organise Your Bookshelves’, myVLF, 3 September 2020.

Whether working, furloughed or simply unable to go out and socialise as much as usual, Covid-19 has given many of us more time at home. Many people have been unpacking their libraries (to use Walter Benjamin’s phrase), building reading nooks and reorganising their shelves. There’s a great tradition of writing to help us in doing this, and especially on the impact that sorting through our books has on us.

If you want to know how to organise your personal library and bookshelves, here are ten top tips based on practical experience and from ten of my favourite books.

Continue reading “Unpacking Your Library”

Farewell and Thanks to myVLF

myVLF

As both a reader and a writer, I wanted to acknowledge the work of Gwynn GB, Kelly Clayton, and Deborah Carr in creating and managing virtual literary festival platform myVLF, which has sadly had to close its doors.

As well as attending many online events there, I was fortunate enough to gain a paid commission to write a blog post for them in September 2020, giving 10 Top Tips to Organise Your Bookshelves. I’ll republish it on the Beginnings Blog now that myVLF is, sadly, no more.

Writing on their website The Blonde Plotters, Gwynn, Kelly and Deborah said:

“When Covid-19 hit our world, we worked flat-out holding as many events as we could and supporting hundreds of authors with their book launches, as well as helping many physical book festivals to reach new audiences … Unfortunately, the huge workload in running so many events, resulted in us not being able to concentrate on our own writing careers. We live for writing and so regretfully we have decided to close MyVLF so that we can reconnect with our author careers and families.”

APDO Spring Clearing Week: Making Clutter Count

At the Bonhams Plath Hughes Private View for the London Bibliophiles in 2018.

Last week was Spring Clearing Week, an annual campaign run by the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) to raise awareness of the need to Spring clear before we Spring clean.

This year, the theme was Making Clutter Count, and, since books are – of course – never clutter, I chose to focus on clothes and textile recycling. I was really inspired by the RSA’s new report Turning the Tide: Public Attitudes on Plastics and Fast Fashion, which found a gap between our desire to reduce the use of plastics and petrochemicals in our clothes and our awareness of how much we are actually consuming. It calls for “new measures to turn the tide, including a tax on virgin plastics used in clothing; a ban on marketing petrochemical-derived clothing; and a commission to prepare for the future of fashion.”

I also drew heavily on Orsola de Castro’s recent book Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act (Penguin Life, 2021). De Castro has been at the forefront of the slow fashion movement since the 1990s. Her book is full of hints and tips on how to “mend, repair and rewear” your clothes, as well as facts and figures on textile recycling, and advice on how to declutter your wardrobe more mindfully.

Preparing for the Week

As well as reading these two publications, on the build-up to Spring Clearing Week I tried out various apps to see whether I wanted to recommend them to people on Instagram. In the end, on Friday I chose to highlight @thredup, a survey you complete to find out how sustainable your wardrobe choices are; @goodonyou_app which provides information on how fair clothing brands are; and @30_wears, which allows you to photograph and diarise your use of each of your clothes. Apparently most women wear most garments only seven times before disposal, so, as its name suggests, the app aims to encourage them to up that to thirty wears.

I also did a lot of surfing the web (including APDO’s own recycling and donations hub for members) to try to find out which charities were still able to collect items for donation despite the Covid restrictions. It’s really important to do due diligence on charity bag schemes, as some collections made door to door actually give very little to the named charity. Some collectors are more conscientious than others about trying to have clothes reworn before looking to have them scrapped for recycling. And, clearly, the best route for anything containing plastics and petrochemicals is for it to be used to the point of destruction before being scrapped and repurposed.

During the Week

The APDO colleagues who run our Twitter and Instagram accounts both primed members in advance to be ready to take part in their #APDOClutterChallenge (links to Twitter – the Insta challenge was completed through Stories which is, of course, more ephemeral). Colleagues shared a range of resources, some of which were new to me. My favourites (in no particular order) are:

The APDO blog shared several articles throughout the week, including one highlighting Caroline Rogers’s recently published research into clutter and wellbeing; Linda Cavellini’s interview of upcycling and sustainability expert Lynne Lambourne; and two posts bringing together advice from a range of APDO members – ‘Decluttering During the Pandemic‘ and ‘10 Ways to Donate Your Decluttered Items That You May Not Have Thought Of!‘ I was lucky enough to have a couple of tips included in the second one – using Recycle Now to find local centres for recycling clothes and The Great Diary Project for family diaries.

Overall

This was the first APDO campaign week to take place since I became a verified member, and it was a great learning experience. I’m sure that some of my clients picked up tips directly from following the #springclearingweek hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and all my clients will benefit from my own increased knowledge on how to make their clutter count. It was also a fantastic way to gain an insight into the things that my colleagues are most passionate about clearing out and organising – there are so many different people looking for help with so many areas of their houses that it’s really useful to know who has expertise in particular fields. Of course, the APDO Directory lets anyone search by particular specialisms, but there’s niche and then there’s niche … you can search for photo organisers, but not for librarians or archivists, for example.

Now I’m looking forward to National Organising Week in November … and, from a CPD point of view, to the APDO Conference next month.

Image: Photo taken by Daichi Ishikawa at Bonhams Plath Hughes Private View for the London Bibliophiles in 2018.


Tidy Beginnings Pricing

Some people ask why we quote by project rather than advertising an hourly rate. It’s a fair question.

This description from colleague @organised.joy sums it up: when you hire me to sort out your books you’re hiring a quarter century of experience as a qualified librarian. Quoting by project means you don’t pay my expert fees when I’m not using that expertise.

Last week included a couple of mug sorting exercises with virtual clients, another shed tidy and helping to decide and carry out a picture hang. I love a bit of variety, and I love being able to sort the spaces around the books and papers – that’s how Tidy Beginnings started, helping existing private library clients with their non-library work too.

As a working class person I used to be terrified of services without set price lists. It took me years to realise that while some bespoke products had inflated prices, others were motivated by a desire to fit the project to the budget of the client, not the other way round. As a customer the most cost-efficient prices I’ve paid have been to businesses who work this way.

Originally posted to Instagram.