One of my writer-friends, John Ottinger, runs a series of posts called "Inside the Blogosphere," for which he requests input from various people. The latest thing he asked us was about our book organization. I thought it would be fun to expand my reply here, including more snapshots. I took the pictures that don't have me in them; Doug took the ones that do.
Our household library exceeds the contents of some school and small-town libraries I have visited. At last estimation, we figured about 10,000 volumes; that was a number of years ago, so it's considerably more now. We use layered organization parameters.
By room, books are sorted into broad categories...
Back bedroom: 3 cases
Stage magic, erotica, magazines, and graphic novels.
Library/music room: 15 cases
Fantasy and science fiction, poetry, anthologies, men's adventure, mystery, horror, and some unsorted books.
This photo is of myself (Elizabeth Barrette) taken by my partner (Doug Edwards), with my glasses off because they were reflecting the flash too much. It shows one corner of the library/music room. Those are salvaged video shelves from a media store that went out of business, and they house the first two alphabetical sections of our science fiction/fantasy collection. They're angled oddly because one of them is too wide to fit into the available wall space.
Kitchen: 8 shelves
Cookbooks and food-related stuff.
These are cheap plastic shelves, collapsing under the weight of many books. We have plans to replace them with sturdier wooden shelves.
Public bathroom: 2 shelves
The coven library of Pagan books and some unsorted books.
Dining room: about a cubic yard of unsorted books.
There are lots of leftovers from reviewing, and not always room to shelve them immediately.
Living room: 3 shelves
Books on entertainment. Most of the many shelves in this area are full of DVDs, videos, and other media materials. This is the location of Doug's large collection of animation, plus some TV series, movies, and other stuff.
My office: 7 cases
Linguistics, gender studies, Paganism, mythology, plants & animals, science, writing, reference, gaming, history, and miscellaneous nonfiction.
Upstairs: 2 rooms lined floor-to-ceiling with built-in bookshelves, built by my father.
A portion of my parents' library, plus some stacks of unsorted Pagan and miscellaneous nonfiction books.
Those are the rooms with significant bookmass. There is probably at least one book in every subcompartment of this house.
Sectors managed by my partner Doug are more methodically organized than those I arrange myself. He organizes about half the back bedroom, the library room, kitchen, and living room; I do the rest of the books. Fiction is usually sorted by genre, then alphabetized by author's last name. Within authors, it may be chronological where feasible, or something else. Series are usually organized by copyright date and/or story chronology. Nonfiction is sorted by genre, then subtopic. Within subtopic, I think books are often alphabetized by title. In my sections, sometimes I clump nonfiction books by the same author. Some sectors, like cookbooks, are broken down into specialized subtopics -- we have subcategories like "cooking reference," "general-purpose cookbooks," "specialty cookbooks," "by food type," "by ingredient," "by ethnicity," etc. Basically we try to keep together the books that we will often search for as a batch. Some books, such as the cookbooks and all the nonfiction in my office, are located
where they are most often used. Others are just stored en masse where there is room.
Doug tends to search very logically. I start with a logical organization and then imprint a mental image of it, so my search is more visual and intuitional once the books are on the shelf. There are a lot of unsorted books in the house because I'm a reviewer, and stuff adds up.
What I would LIKE to do is get a lot of clip-on plastic shelf labels like libraries use for their solid shelves, which can be moved or relabeled at need, and use those to mark all the subcategories. That would make it a lot easier to find things. We've also decided it would be nice, if we can ever afford it, to acquire a house-trailer and some library "stacks" shelves, and give a significant portion of the library its own home. Generally, though, I like lining a house with books and being surrounded by them most of the time.
And the dragon reference? These books are my hoard. You mess with my books, I hack you to bits. Since I can't actually breathe fire in this body, but am still draconic at the core, this will suffice. (I thought of this picture while planning the others, and couldn't resist posing for it too.)