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Author Topic: Book related - controlling book collections  (Read 12600 times)
RDragon
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« Topic Start: November 25, 2007, 03:39:24 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection? I have at least a few hundred books and it's getting out of control. Everything from dozens of genres and subjects. I see lots of great recommendations on here that have definitely influenced some of my purchases. Lately I've been adding between 5 and 10 a month - yikes! I'm a total bibliophile. Just having books around me brings me a kind of comfort.

Christa
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« Reply #1: November 25, 2007, 04:01:29 pm »

Christa

Welcome to the Cauldron, Christa.  Or rather, given your registration date, welcome out of lurk.

On the book subject, I don't read so well anymore off paper, so I've been putting my book collection on cd and hard-drive for the last few years.  Takes up much less space, you can sell the book once it's on the comp, and you can loan them out without losing your copy.

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« Reply #2: November 25, 2007, 04:23:09 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection? I have at least a few hundred books and it's getting out of control. Everything from dozens of genres and subjects. I see lots of great recommendations on here that have definitely influenced some of my purchases. Lately I've been adding between 5 and 10 a month - yikes! I'm a total bibliophile. Just having books around me brings me a kind of comfort.

Christa

Welcome out of lurk!

And I have them sorta-arranged by subject in various points in the house.  With the fiction in semi-alphabetical order.

But mostly I'm just cosmically disorganized. Cheesy
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« Reply #3: November 25, 2007, 04:30:41 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection?
I've also arranged them by subject and then alphabetically. Lexika & dictionaries are near my desk so I can grab them quickly. I've also piled some wildly just on others of the same subject because they seem to reproduce and I don't know where to stick them anymore.

Is there a spell to enlarge your book shelf a la Harry Potter?  Tongue
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« Reply #4: November 25, 2007, 04:43:11 pm »

I've also arranged them by subject and then alphabetically. Lexika & dictionaries are near my desk so I can grab them quickly. I've also piled some wildly just on others of the same subject because they seem to reproduce and I don't know where to stick them anymore.

Is there a spell to enlarge your book shelf a la Harry Potter?  Tongue

I wish! As we speak, my fiance is looking at bookshelves online in preparation for when we get married and move in together in June. (Talk about planning ahead!) I'm also sort of forcing him into helping me decide between Dewey Decimal and the LOC classification system, or just using my own system. I just downloaded book collection software from collectionz.com to try out. Apparently it downloads both codes with the book record.

Talk about AR - right now I'm staring at the bane of my book collection - the book that came with Lo Scarabeo's Egyption Tarot has the spine printed UPSIDE DOWN. Now how do it deal with that!? Just shelf the book upside down, I guess. Jeesh.

Thanks for the replies. Nice to know I'm not alone in my current (dis)organization style. And thanks for the welcome. I posted a few times in what is now the archived 2006 board.

Christa
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« Reply #5: November 25, 2007, 04:52:43 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection? I have at least a few hundred books and it's getting out of control. Everything from dozens of genres and subjects. I see lots of great recommendations on here that have definitely influenced some of my purchases. Lately I've been adding between 5 and 10 a month - yikes! I'm a total bibliophile. Just having books around me brings me a kind of comfort.

I have between 750 and 1000 books (one of my projects for this winter is getting them cataloged). I've actually been really diligent about not buying things the last two years (both due to severe cash restriction, and severe space restrictions: up until this June, I'd spent the last 1.5 years with my books in a single room while living with housemates) but keeping them organized is always interesting.

I am actually an Officially Degreed Librarian (just saw your comment about LOC and Dewey), so I've been thinking about this one since my first cataloging class.

Both of them are *lousy* for religions that aren't Christianity (and only slightly less lousy for Judaism than for other religions.) LOC in particular is at a level of detail, too, that is really overkill for most private or even smaller public libraries (though it can make sense in the context of a larger library system.) There are a number of privately developed systems for things like seminary and synagogue libraries: the general consensus is that looking at what you want your collection to do and what makes sense in your context are the most important things.

I'm likely to go for a computer based catalog system that lets me assign internal subject headings and/or tags that I can use consistently, so that I can pull up the categories that actually matter to me (and generally locate things.) Even if my library were two or three times the size, though, I wouldn't need a substantial Cutter number system (those are the numbers on the call number after the primary designation), or the deep delineation of either LOC or Dewey. There are whole swaths of both where I might have, at most, one or two books in their broadest designation in my personal collection - and others where I have hundreds, and desire a level of nuance that they don't even begin to approach.

I currently shelve by general genre: all my fiction is broken down into subgenre (esoteric fiction, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, high fantasy, anthologies, mysteries, more mysteries, science fiction, vampires/werewolves/etc. General fiction. literature (mostly medieval/renaissance related) The non fiction is varied: general stuff os on one shelf, and I have six shelves of Pagan-related books (including what one of my friends calls "The shelf of ill-repute" - copies I keep around to discuss why I think they're not good recommendations.) There's general sorting right now (historical stuff together, herb stuff together, ritual texts together, etc.) but it's problematic because so many books hit multiple categories.

What I mostly do is shelve things so that I know where to go look for them. For fiction, that's by genre, because when I want to read something, I'm usually clear on what kind of book I want (or the specific title). For the Pagan stuff, I've pulled the books I'm regularly using right now onto two separate shelves, which helps.

There are a wide range of computer technologies. If you want to have them online, LibraryThing (http://librarything.com) lets you scan (you can buy a scanner cheaply from them) and post them, using the ISBN scanning to identify the book (this is way fast, and saves typing.) Or you can use any number of computer-based programs.

(I'm telling myself right now that I'm waiting on cataloging because I'm anticipating a shift to Mac OS 10.5 in the forseeable future, and if I wait to do the scanning, I'll be saving myself some translation issues, as I'm currently using 10.3.9, and there are some more nuanced programs out there for 10.4, and I'm sure for 10.5) So technology is a consideration. If you search at VersionTracker.com for book catalog software, there's a number of options there. (The one I've used in the past is Booxter)
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« Reply #6: November 25, 2007, 05:20:02 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection?

I categorize by genre, then alphabetically by writer (I have entire collections by some in particular*). My reference collection isn't this tidy, though; it's pretty much piecemeal on the two shelves where it lives - with the books I use the most first in line on the uppermost shelf.  My "read these for review" (I write book reviews for a sci-horror mag) books are shelved in the order received (ie, order to read). Then, I have a "friends shelf" (which is quickly growing into a "friends case", honestly) of signed books I've received from people I know.

It might all look like a glorified mess to anyone else, but I can pretty much walk up to any shelf in question and pluck of a book. Smiley

* Anne Rice, Rosamunde Pilcher, Brian Keene, Michael Laimo, Debra LeBlanc, Steven Savile, Tom Piccirilli, Tonya Huff, Scott Nicholson (I adore Scott; he's such a sweetheart!), Poppy Z Brite, Stephen King, Arthur C Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Jean M Auel, R. Thomas Riley, Scott Lynch. I also have a complete collection of Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest magazine and a complete library of all the books and chapbooks we've published over the last three years. And I have a very sweet (if I may say so myself!) collection of children's books, which my boys find hilarious, but I keep reminding them that one day I will be a grandma. Wink
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« Reply #7: November 25, 2007, 05:24:52 pm »


Does anybody here besides me collect chapbooks? I have the most horrible time keeping these organized. There doesn't seem to be any practical way. Any ideas?
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« Reply #8: November 25, 2007, 05:34:36 pm »

I have between 750 and 1000 books (one of my projects for this winter is getting them cataloged). I've actually been really diligent about not buying things the last two years (both due to severe cash restriction, and severe space restrictions: up until this June, I'd spent the last 1.5 years with my books in a single room while living with housemates) but keeping them organized is always interesting.

(snip)

I am actually an Officially Degreed Librarian (just saw your comment about LOC and Dewey), so I've been thinking about this one since my first cataloging class.

Both of them are *lousy* for religions that aren't Christianity (and only slightly less lousy for Judaism than for other religions.) LOC in particular is at a level of detail, too, that is really overkill for most private or even smaller public libraries (though it can make sense in the context of a larger library system.) There are a number of privately developed systems for things like seminary and synagogue libraries...

(snip)

 If you search at VersionTracker.com for book catalog software, there's a number of options there. (The one I've used in the past is Booxter)

The software I'm trying out was the first on Version Tracker's list, so I guess I chose wisely. I'm liking it so far. You've given me a lot to think about. I see what you mean about Dewey and LOC. Maybe I'll start with the basics of a classification system (learn how they work) then build my own. I'm not afraid of over-complicating things - I've been told I do that all the time, for better or (more often) for worse. I'll probably just sort fiction by author. They only fall into 3 or 4 genres.

My head is spinning. Perhaps I should save this project for after I actually move and have the man who will then be my husband help me sort it all out.

Christa
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« Reply #9: November 25, 2007, 06:07:00 pm »



My husband and I have about 3000 books (shut up, I'm an academic in the humanities Cheesy ), and have an organization system based upon a) subject and b) size.  We have designated bookcases/shelves for each subject we have books on, but within those designated spaces, we organize by size:  with that many books, maximizing our space is important.  For example, on the "19th-century history" shelf, the largest/tallest books go on the ends, with the small ones in the middle, so we can stack. 
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« Reply #10: November 25, 2007, 09:23:59 pm »

My husband and I have about 3000 books (shut up, I'm an academic in the humanities Cheesy )
(snip) 

Wow. I've got book envy. 3000? Maybe I'll get there in ten years.

Christa
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« Reply #11: November 25, 2007, 10:12:32 pm »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection?

I started organizing my books after I started coming home with duplicates (Half Price Books is my obsession!)

I set up a workbook in excel - I have several columns: title, author last name, author first name, publisher, year published and comments. Whenever I come home with a new book (or 15!) I enter them in the spreadsheet and then sort the data by last name, first name and title. After I finish reading the book, I put my notes in the comments cell for future reference.

I print the list before I make a trip to the bookstore so that I don't buy a duplicate book ever again.

I'm thinking I have to upgrade my system to Readerware soon.
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« Reply #12: November 25, 2007, 11:08:15 pm »

My head is spinning. Perhaps I should save this project for after I actually move and have the man who will then be my husband help me sort it all out.

Taking this slightly backwards:

If you're looking at moving in the next 3-6 months, it's probably a better use of your time and energy to wait until you move, especially if you plan to intermingle your books. (Some people do, some don't). A bunch of what you're looking at is going to be space, shelving, and some nebulous "Well, this bookshelf is really easy to get to, and that one, you've got to move the chair forward 6 inches to get to the bottom two rows" sorts of stuff. Also, you may need to change your system around once you get settled (especially if you intermingle collections.)

(On the other hand: I moved 3 times in the last 18 months, and each day on the primary day I moved, it was 'set up the altar, set up the computer, set up the harp, and then file the books'. Couldn't go to sleep until it was done. Just .. don't get too attached to any one system if you know you're moving.)

Quote
Maybe I'll start with the basics of a classification system (learn how they work) then build my own.


I have, somewhere on my comptuer, a bunch of thoughts on mine. I need to work on it anyway. As I make progress, I'll post (though I'm doubting I'll have anything in the next couple of weeks: major professional-conference opportunity is going to eat my brain for most of this/next week, I think).

Quote
I'm not afraid of over-complicating things - I've been told I do that all the time, for better or (more often) for worse. I'll probably just sort fiction by author. They only fall into 3 or 4 genres.

There are worse places to start. The thing about classification systems? At the most basic level they are "When I want to find this book, where will I start looking?" Obviously, different people will have different answers for some things, so eventually a system grows up that is a compromise between the most prevalent choices.

(This is where I would insert my "This is how library classification systems are like elemental correspondances" discussion, except that it's late, and I've had a long weekend. I'm glad to do it later for the curious.)

When you're working on your own collection, the classifications can be a lot more individual (my 'esoteric fiction', for example, includes some stuff that is *so* normally not labelled that way. And my 'historical fantasy' category is a pretty unusual one, too: it's not a normal genre category, but it's one that I find handy, because when I want to read a book with a strong historical background - Kurtz's Deryni novels, Kay's non-modern-inclusion novels like Tigana, Naomi Novik's stuff, Johnathan Strange, I don't want to rummage through the totally-fantastical books to find them.
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« Reply #13: November 26, 2007, 08:52:26 am »

On the subject of books, do any of you have a method that you use to organize your book collection? I have at least a few hundred books and it's getting out of control. Everything from dozens of genres and subjects. I see lots of great recommendations on here that have definitely influenced some of my purchases. Lately I've been adding between 5 and 10 a month - yikes! I'm a total bibliophile. Just having books around me brings me a kind of comfort.

I feel almost pedestrian after reading through the thread...  I organize mine alphabetically by author, with a few exceptions for books that I know I'll never find that way (which usually get sorted by title).  Grin  But then our collection is nowhere near what some people here are describing, and not as rich in nonfiction as I'd like it to be, and since Hubby and I have similar tastes in fiction most of that is fantasy, even.  So there's not as much point in splitting it up as there would be with other people's collections.
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« Reply #14: November 27, 2007, 02:44:56 pm »


I have, somewhere on my comptuer, a bunch of thoughts on mine. I need to work on it anyway. As I make progress, I'll post (though I'm doubting I'll have anything in the next couple of weeks: major professional-conference opportunity is going to eat my brain for most of this/next week, I think).

I'm looking forward to reading this when you have time to post it. And I think I am going to wait till I move. We've already decided which room in his house will be the library, with a nice big window to put a reading chair in front of.

Christa
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