Taming the Back Room Jungle

Leslie Hawkins -- July 10th, 2017

Spellbound’s tiny back room, approximately 70 square feet serving simultaneously as stock room, break room, and broom closet, reached a breaking point last week. Or, rather, I did.

Actual photo of me. jk

I’d been eagerly awaiting delivery of some new-to-us shelves for the bargain book room, not least so that I could move the old ones—ugly but tall, deep, and sturdy—into the back room to tame the jungle of boxes stacked upon boxes (with stacks that didn’t fit into the boxes stacked upon those boxes). Things had gotten so bad that it was like playing giant Jenga to move enough boxes out of the way to get to the back of the room, not to mention some fancy maneuvering to make room for our little dorm fridge to open. Two long, low shelves were all we had for storing galleys and overstock books, usually piled two or three deep. Kalee, who is often tasked with putting away the galleys we receive, was already in absolute despair about how we were going to fit even one more ARC in that room. The tipping point came while I was decorating for an author event and went looking for those cute pirate party decorations I just knew we had in there somewhere. As I turned the doorknob to the back room I heard a creaking sound that could only be described as ominous, followed by a loud crash… and another, softer crash. The door would only open a few inches. Had I been sufficiently armed with a pith helmet and machete, that would have been my preferred approach at that moment but, alas, I had to make do with jiggling the door back and forth until I could get my foot inside to kick the offending items out of the way. Apparently, a bike hook holding some of our folding chairs had given way and caused a chain reaction of things tumbling down. (Note to self: screw into a stud the next time!)

A little white lie to hide the mess

And then, my friends, it was on. I didn’t care that we didn’t have our new shelves yet; we could stack the used and bargain books on the floor for all I cared, but we had to get some proper shelving in the store room pronto. And so our bargain book room was closed for a day as it was used for a staging area to pull out every single thing from that crazy jam-packed back room and re-organize completely.

As is often the case when doing a major clear-out like this, I was sincerely shocked that so much stuff had ever fit in such a small space to begin with. I got rid of what I could and made joyous use of those shelves prematurely requisitioned from the bargain book room to organize our overstock and galleys neatly. I made sure that when things still had to go into boxes at least those boxes were repacked in a way that made sense and that the contents were clearly listed on the sides.

I spent hours sorting through bits and bobs—gathering all the Easter grass into one big bag, re-homing stray crayons, and marveling at our truly impressive collection of googly eyes. And fabric markers—why on earth do we have so many packs of fabric markers?

Hopefully all of this will, in addition to calming to my nerves, help us do a better job by being able to get to what we need more quickly. Oh, and the new shelves came just in the nick of time, in the middle of the big reorg! Build it (or, in this case, tear it apart) and they will come.

We’ll see how long this newfound order lasts, but for now I practically swoon when I walk into the back room and see the fruits of my labor.

Be still my heart… every title is visible AND we can open the fridge!

 

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