1794: catalogued

I spent a good chunk of Friday organizing my books.


I have lugged more than 100 with me since first moving to Petersburg in 2006. I have two wheeled suitcases I rarely use to carry anything other than my books. I used to keep them separated into fiction and nonfiction and then divided into the Dewey Decimal System, because I once volunteered at the Hampton Public Library and had to memorize the sections.

When you have a lot of fiction books, and it’s your personal library, the Dewey system is quite lacking. Also, when you move a lot, it’s a pain to go through organizing them. Since there is a lot of leeway in Dewey, as in there aren’t uniform numbers beyond the categories, I don’t think they’ve been in the same order twice, and adding books is a pain. (e.g.: Does this go under law or history?) Additionally, since I never had a catalogue of books, I didn’t know what I had or what went missing. I know for a fact that at least three books are gone. I have no idea to whom I lent them. I’ll probably never see them again, unless I steal them back as I did with my copy of The Incredibles back in college.

My David Simon book is gone. I think Katy has it.

But I digress.

I decided to sort my books by the Library of Congress Classification and catalogue them. (As you have noticed so far, I spell catalog catalogue. That’s how I learned it. I don’t care what’s en vogue nowadays.) It took about eight hours, but it feels rewarding. A lot of books have their Library of Congress Call Numbers in them, so that was easy. For the others, I used a scanner app to get the correct ISBN (you’d be surprised how often the bar code and numbers don’t match) and then punch it into the LOC’s online catalogue. For some of the older ones, I had to do some extensive searching. At least two of my books are in special collections. My oldest book is 84 years old.

As I got the LCC numbers, I logged the books in to a spreadsheet. I now know what  I have and what has/hasn’t been read fully. Also, if someone borrows a book, I can make a record of it being “checked out” of the Elliott Robinson Library-Main Branch. If I’m really bored in Hampton one day, I’ll organize the East Branch/TDR Juvenile Books Collection.

Adding books and putting them in their places should be a snap going forward. That manifested itself when I was putting them back on the shelves and noticed one was left over. All I had to do was punch in the LCC, sort the list again and stick it on the shelf. I have a few books that have LOC Control Numbers but not LCCs. Additionally, some just aren’t in the system, like my yearbook. I tacked them on at the end by LCCN first and then the rest in alphabetical order by title. I’ll add in author name, if that ever arises.

Beyond that little snag, I’m happy with the results. The categories make a lot more sense, as literature is organized in subsets like Greek, Arabic, and French, for example. I can browse my books by topic, which will come in handy if I ever go hog-wild when I’m in a more permanent home and can buy a lot more books.

And now, when I do move, I’ll never have to stare at my out-of-order for one year and three months until my normally highly suppressed (see my desk at work, for example) borderline OCD takes over.

Although I’m basking in the glory of this being complete, I’m starting to think of what I’m going to tackle next. I’m taking this reinstated energy and organization and running with it. I said I was going to wind up annoying some people with this. Oh, it’s going to happen.

I pretty much can’t wait.

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