Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bookshelf Organization For the Win!

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:
  • Pre-1800
  • 1800- 1850
  • 1851-1900
  • 1901-1950
  • 1951-present
  • Anthologies, short fiction and poetry
  • NYRBS, Persephones, and Viragos
  • Non-Fiction
  • 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.

Here we have NYRBs, Persephones, and Virago books. Then anthologies, fiction 1951 to present, non-fiction, and a few random reference type books.  Click to embiggen.

 The bookshelf in my bed room contains two shelves with library books, current reads, challenge selections, and my TBR for the year.  After I read one of these non-library book titles I will have to put the book through my collection development ringer.  I either keep it for a good reason or take it to the charity bookshop.  The bottom shelf is empty and that will hold my new purchases.  All of purchases must sit on that shelf until they are read and analyzed for keepablity.  This should cut down on my crazy charity shop buying sprees.

 So what do you think?  I think it will work for me and it seems to make logical sense.  Let me know if you all have any suggestions for improvements!


Chris said...

Oh wow!!! It looks fabulous!! And you are SO much more organized than me :p Mine are just all together my authors last name :p

Eva said...

Oh fun!

I have my fiction organised partly by genre, partly by chronology, and partly by geography. LOL It works for me though!