My move to Abu Dhabi was measured in weight. I had to choose, from my roomfuls of books back home, just a tiny select few to make the three and a half thousand mile journey in a shipping crate . The internet has much information (so only Delia and Nigella made the cut from the cookery books), but it is no replacement for the books, pamphlets, and journals that have been collected over a lifetime.
These may well be full of obsolete and out of date content, but they are a rich resource of nostalgic comfort. When you know each page, can find any image, you are able to cross reference and make connections. New additions to your collection just give more depth. This personal archive ( an embodiment as it is of your very singular tastes and interests), will inform and often drive your work.
That is why its loss can make you feel ungrounded and rudderless. You don't need to tell a design student to collect stuff, I imagine it's hard wired in, but a bit of advice would be to scan and record, draw from and photograph.
I wish I'd made a record of the 1940’s type primers, and 1950s sewing patterns, the brilliantly designed 1958 trade book on printing technology (dull but gorgeous), that are all boxed up on the other side of the world.