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Categorizing Books

Q) We have a huge library and just acquired some more books from a friend's estate. I want to be able to find the books but am not sure if I should categorize by author, type of book (novel, mystery,...), value (some are expensive!) or what. What would you suggest?

Reply: The beauty of organizing is that there are many ways to do it, depending upon the user's preferences-for once, there are no rules!

First off when storing books, consider the amount you have, the genres in which they fall, and how often you will dig into your collection. The cost of the book is generally not relevant, though you may want to consider a book's physical condition. Those that are physically vulnerable will need a special set up, within which you can apply the following guidelines.

If you have so many that your books need to be stored in several rooms all over the house, I suggest that you first separate by category, , i.e., mysteries in the blue bedroom, novels in the study, etc., then alphabetize by author's last name, then first name.

An index listing your categories and their locations would be handy so you can easily find what you're looking for. If you are very meticulous, you could also put the authors and titles on your index. This tool can be stored on your computer (easier to re-sort when you add new books) or on a piece of paper; just be sure that you know where it is.

If you have few enough books that they will all go in one room (or you have lots of books but an enormous room), you can easily apply the same system, i.e., cook books and mysteries on the first shelf, fiction and gardening on the second, etc.

Another option is to simply combine them all together and alphabetize by author's last name. Like at the library, it also may help to put a note on your shelves highlighting what is contained therein.

Remember the cardinal rule: make your decisions based upon your own thought patterns. You want to be able to put your books away, and find them again, without too much fuss.

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Jill Ellen Shankar
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