Saturday, September 12, 2009

How To Organize Your Massive Book Collection


The other day, my friend Jenn called me and asked a question only a librarian could answer: how do I organize a book collection? Since my husband and I own a massive amount of books, she came to the right person.
Every time we move, the hardest part is the books. They are heavy, hard to carry, and we have way too many. We don't actually own too many other things, but we can't seem to let go of the book collection. (According to the book "Freakonomics," research has shown that a child's intelligence grows more NOT by being read to - although also very important - but if they grow up around books and around adults who read. By this logic, our future children will be baby geniuses).

Of course, there are many ways that you can organize books, and there's small part of me that wants to give our books a Dewey Decimal system (in which case, my husband will truly think I am insane). But what I recommended to my friend was to follow the simplicity of the "bookstore model" - i.e. divide the books by subjects and then alphabetize by author's last name within each subject.

I work in a small, one-room college library, and this is actually the model we use (organize by subject, and then by Library of Congress call numbers within that subject). It's not perfect, but it allows our students to BROWSE the sections (and hopefully, feel more comfortable in the library).

So, I told my friend that she needs to create a system that allows for her own browsing. The key here is to organize by subjects that make sense to you. Don't make a French cooking section if you have one Julia Child book.

On the other hand, if you have really large subject (like my husband does), then it makes sense to create smaller subjects within that section. For instance, my hubby is studying Political Science. So, we have sections for:
  • Media Studies

  • American Government
  • Middle East Studies
  • International Relations
  • Economics
  • Environmental Policy

As for me, my fiction collection is quite substantial, and I used to divide up novels, poetry, & drama, but after this last move, I combined everything together, but kept a separate section for literary theory and Classics (I was a Latin minor).

Yes, our inner nerd is showing. Haven't you seen the title of this blog?

Does anyone else organize their books in this way? How do you keep track of your collections? Please share!

1 comment:

Amy said...

I love it! great advice...