I’ve been thinking a great deal about what kind of reader I am and how to manage my desire to procure as many books possible and READ THEM ALL! Earlier in the year I developed my own collection development policy; this has helped with helping me decide what to purchase, check-out from the library, and even what reading challenges to complete. I consult it before every book buying or library adventure.
But how to organize my growing collection to something manageable? I think I hit on the perfect solution for me, but first let me explain my previous shelf-organizing schemes.
- In college (1999-2004): I separated fiction and non-fiction and within those sections I separated alphabetically by author paperback and hardcover. A smaller shelf in my bedroom housed textbooks, tons of library books, and my semester’s assigned novels and collections, and my TBR. PROS — everything fit in my teeny apartment and I was able to successfully keep up with course reads and gobs of library materials. CONS — I hated dividing paperback and hardback. I don’t know why I did it. I think it had to do with balancing my shelves; but I really hated splitting authors.
- Post-college (2005-2007): I organized by Library of Congress. This was painstaking. Let me preface this by saying I ADORE LC and think it superior to Dewey in organization, scope, and room for growth. However, looking up each call number, making a teeny label, and then shelving was ridiculous. In my defense, I had just started my library job as a copy cataloger and I had a hard-on for WorldCat. Library books and my TBR pile were in separate stacks on the floor by my bed. PROS — it was so effing organized. CONS — it took FOREVER to begin and even longer to maintain.
- Recent (2008 – 2012): Fiction is alphabetical by author. Then non-fiction is loosely organized in LC order. I pulled out my Viragos, NYRBS, and Persephones and they are organized separately. Library books and current reads were piled wherever. PROS — Organized and easy to shelve. CONS — Not quite organized and, frankly, boring.
What I really wanted was a combination between the post-college and most recent modes of organization. I remember thinking that a book organization analysis was needed when I was trying to pull books by Victorians. I wanted some subject/period/author organization offered by LC, but I needed it to simple. I didn’t want to organize by genres because I knew I would need to divide authors…. after all, A Tale of Two Cities is historical fiction, but I didn’t want my Dickens separated. And what about someone like Mary Stewart? Some of her books are historical and some are straight-up Gothy romantic thrillers.
I finally hit on an idea: I divided most of my fiction in 50-year chunks and organized by author birthdays. Within the categories I alphabetized by author. Here were my categories:
- 1800- 1850
- Anthologies, short fiction and poetry
- NYRBS, Persephones, and Viragos
- Library books
- To Be Read pile
Now, an in progress picture:
|As Sam said “that is a shit ton of books!”|
I don’t think I need to tell you that this took me all morning. But, hey, the shelves had a through dusting!
|Okay, here is the pre-1800to 1950 shelf. Click to embiggen.|