After reading Bringing your bookshelves back to order last week, you’ve hopefully had time to go through your books in your personal collection and clear the clutter. Now that you have enough space for your books, it’s time to take on the task of organizing them on the shelves.
I want to start by recommending that you take inventory of your books. If you value your books enough to keep them, then you should want to replace them if ever your collection is ruined in a disaster. If you wouldn’t want to replace them, then you may want to reconsider keeping them. Additionally, a current inventory allows you to search your whole collection with just a few key strokes on your computer. There are many software programs out there to help you with your inventory. On a PC, you may be interested in trying Readerware for Books ($40). It seems to be the least expensive, most positively reviewed, and it also has a version for Windows-based handheld devices ($50). If you have a Mac system, the two most positively discussed products are Booxter ($50) and Delicious Monster ($40). Neither appear to have the bells and whistles of the Readerware program, but they have much more intuitive interfaces.
With your collection free of clutter and properly inventoried, here are some recommended ways of organizing your books:
- The latest trend is to organize your books by spine color. This method is definitely not for me since it doesn’t provide easy access to finding what I need quickly, but, if you have a home inventory in place, you could enter shelf location and make searching your collection easier.
- I organize my collection using the Library of Congress classification system. I don’t get into the nitty gritty of subclasses, I just follow the broad category groupings. All of my social science books are together on a single shelf, for example.
- If the LoC isn’t for you, the Dewey Decimal groupings may be more your style.
- I’ve also found that organizing most accessed to least accessed works well, especially if you have a lot of shelves that are above shoulder height. Books rarely accessed go up on high shelves, and ones regularly accessed go at eye level or lower. If you have smaller children, reserve the lower shelves for their books.
- Creating your own organization method is always an option, too. If this is the path you choose, I recommend labeling your shelves with Inreda Bookends or sticking a printed label directly on the lip of the shelf. Doing this will help you find your books most efficiently.
Good luck with your book organizing efforts! I’m eager to read in the comments how you’ve decided to organize the books you’ve chosen to keep.
Image from chotda’s collection on flickr.