How To Organize Your Personal Library

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If you have a free Saturday this winter, you may want to go super-geek and organize that pile of books that serves as your personal library. It may seem like a chore, but sorting through years of books can be entertaining. Of course, you also gain the added benefits of quicker access to the books you actually need as well as more floor space.

To begin to free this potential space from the cluttered piles, clear a space to work. This may need to be another room, but one method is to remove all the books from one shelf and begin there so there is less moving to be done at the end of the process. Either way, designate categories for your books.

If your collection is relatively small, broad labels such as fiction, non-fiction, and miscellaneous may do. However, if you’re serious about books and organizing them, then you probably have enough to warrant more specific categories; think of the ways that you mentally sort them. You may end up with categories such as horror, mystery, game manual, and history, or subject and subset pairs such as fiction: horror, fiction: historical, and non-fiction: textbooks. It’s up to you.

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Next, assign one shelf or area to each category. This may require the use of post-its, so have a pen nearby. And don’t be surprised if new categories develop as you work. Begin the process by sorting the books into their places. After this is done, decide the places where each category will more permanently reside and relocate them there.

You may now choose to arrange each category by author, title, or subset, or you can just leave it as is. And if you’re particularly careful or particularly bored, you may want to use this opportunity to write your name on each volume (and maybe the year and place that you originally read it).

Lastly, if you want your library to feel like a real one, there are many stationary shops that sell special, acid-free labels for the inside cover. These record your name, the year, the category, and so forth. You can also choose to assign dewy decimals with a bit of tape and a considerable amount of patience.

Some very special labels even offer check-in and check-out spaces (like library cards had prior to computerization) and are sold with a rubber stamp that records the date. These additions are hardly necessary, but they can be a fun addition and a way to keep up with your books if you happen to serve as the local lending library to your circle of friends.

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