Build a Survival Library: Physical vs Digital Books, and What to Include

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By Bryan Lynch •  6 min read

One of the best things that you can do for your survival preparations is to create a survival library. Why? Because knowledge is king. Gear and supplies can be lost, stolen, broken or not even available in the first place.

Knowledge can never be taken away from you and learning, whether it be about ourselves or the environment around us, is what life is all about. 

Creating a Survival Library

However if that is not enough of a reason, how about this. Many people within the survival community like to discuss the idea of bartering.

In a world without the internet, how valuable do you think a book would be? How valuable would a skill set like gardening, or food preservation be? Just something to ponder. 

How to Start Building a Survival Library

There are two approaches to creating a library. One is a digital library and one is a physical library

Digital library

Technology is awesome in that a ton, I mean a ton of information can be downloaded and saved in a very small space. This wealth of information can easily be transported anywhere at a moment’s notice. 

The problem with a digital library is that it is very susceptible to outside forces. Water, temperature, EMP, and being broken. It is also completely dependent on a power source. No power equals no library. 

Physical library

A physical library is made up of books or printouts of your digital library. This will take up a lot of space and is not easily transported. But it is far less susceptible to outside forces and does not require a power source to be used. 

Combine both of them! 

Why not have the best of both worlds and combine both of these methods? Keep a running log of items in digital format. At the same time be sure to print out pertinent information and purchase relevant books. 

Keeping Your Survival Library Organized…

If you are going the digital route there are two key factors to keep in mind. 

Organization! It is frustrating to print out hundreds or thousands of pages of information and to not have it organized. I have done this, so trust me. Make sure that you have a way of keeping it all organized that works for you and the topics are easily accessible. Having a three-hole punch, binders, and labels helped me out a lot. 

Credibility. I am sure you are aware that the internet is a HUGE source of information. The problem is that it is not all a reliable source of information. It is worth noting that when you find a source that you like, you should cross-reference it and make sure the information is trustworthy before committing to it. 

Once you have established the type of library you want you need to decide on where to keep it.

Remember that when the SHTF this information could save your life. Back up as much information as possible and keep it in an area where it will be the safest.

Usually, this will be a location that is cool, dry, and where it will not be harmed by the elements, including sunlight. 

Physical Survival Library: What to Include?

I think a physical library is best because of the reasons I listed above.

If you are just getting started on the topic of survival, emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, I wanted to recommend a few books to get you going as well as some topics you should be looking at. Let’s start with topics. 

When concerned with long term survival techniques the best place to be looking is to history. After all, what we call survival skills today is how people have lived throughout the ages. Look at texts of ancient civilizations, fur traders, and the mountain men in how they learned to live with their environments. These people knew how to survive in the harshest of conditions, and most importantly, with minimal gear.  

Here are some other topics you may want to consider learning about. 

The following are some suggestions for books to get your survival library started. 

For more book recommendations, check out our article on the best survival books

Essential Wilderness Navigation: A Real-World Guide to Finding Your Way Safely in the Woods With or Without A Map Compass or GPS

 Wilderness instructor Tracy Trimble and wilderness trainer and author Craig Caudill team up to present this incredibly informative navigational guide that everyone should own. This book starts from the beginning and walks novices through every aspect of this critical skill. I have been in the outdoors my whole life and I couldn’t believe what I learned from this book. Added in the back of the book is a full-size topographical map for real-world practice!

Last update on 2024-05-26 at 23:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Midwest Foraging: 115 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Burdock to Wild Peach 

Lisa M. Rose does an amazing job of putting together one of the best books I have read on wild edibles. She covers the basics of why someone would want to forage, how to forage, tools of the trade, and what to avoid. Additionally, the sections on the individual plants are well organized, with great pictures and how and when to harvest during different types of the year. If you live in the Midwest, I highly recommend this book.

Last update on 2024-05-26 at 23:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide For When Help is NOT on the way.

I would say that the average person is not well off in the area of first aid and medical knowledge. Do you know what you would do if you broke a bone or became ill and visiting the doctor wasn’t an option? If you answered no, then this book needs to be in your library.

Joseph Alton and Amy Alton do an amazing job of laying out exactly what would happen medically if the SHTF. But more importantly, they give you the tools within this book of dealing with the most common health problems. For anyone wanting to increase their medical knowledge, I highly recommend this book for your library!

The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY...
  • Quality material used to make all Pro force products
  • Tested in the field and used in the toughest environments

Last update on 2024-05-26 at 23:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

Written by John “Lofty” Wiseman, The SAS Survival Handbook is a classic. It covers almost every aspect of survival situations in almost any environment. I don’t need to say much about this book as it should be in everyone’s library and even their pack!

SAS Survival Handbook: The Definitive Survival Guide
  • Wiseman, John ‘Lofty’ (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update on 2024-05-26 at 23:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wrapping it Up

At the end of the day, our survival largely depends on the knowledge we have and the skills we practice.

There is no better way of being prepared for the unknown than by building a survival library. Keep reading and stay prepared!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.