General Question

Earthgirl's avatar

Book lovers out there, how do you keep your library organized so you can find things?

Asked by Earthgirl (11189points) January 27th, 2011

Or don’t you?! I was reading this question and the answers people were giving and I wondered if there are any secret methods to keeping it organized so you don’t have to search for hours to find a book. Obviously you could sort by category, alphabetically, etc. Whatever you do, does it work for you?

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31 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, dear, I always mean to organize by genre and author, but it never happens. If I want a book, I have to search through all the books. Then I get distracted, forget what I’m looking for, and read something else.

marinelife's avatar

Our books are organized in some mysterious means of my husband’s. I just search for what I want.

bobbinhood's avatar

I don’t yet have enough books to need a great system, so for now they are organized first by genre, then by how much I like them. My mother, however, has a fantastic library! She organizes by the type of book, then alphabetically by author. She also has a spreadsheet that lists all of the books she owns. Finally, she has a “checkout” list of people who borrow books and what books they have. It’s impressive.

My ideal personal library will be organized first by type of book (fiction, nonfiction). Fiction books will then be organized by genre, then author, then date/series (most by date, but any series will be put together). Nonfiction books will be organized by topic, then by author. Academic books will be organized by topic, then complexity, then author. I really can’t wait to have a legitimate library; organization makes me so happy.

My fiancé and I both have a lot of books, so this type of organization may be in order as soon as we are married and can actually afford some more bookshelves. Currently, neither of us have enough bookshelves for our own books.

AmWiser's avatar

I have no organization to my books whatsoever. I’m not even sure what books I have. I just like the fact that I can go to the shelves and pick out a good book to read when I want to.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I do it by bookshelves. One has history, one has gardening, one has fiction, one has cooking, one has miscellaneous,etc and the floor gets the rest.

iamthemob's avatar

Genre and author is the main system.

Then, the one’s I reference the most are in the most accessible place, and the ones that are the prettiest are in the most visible place.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I used to be like @bobbinhood ‘s mom, you’d think after a decade working in books I’d have gotten into good habits. Well, no.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

I don’t have a colossal collection, so it isn’t too hard for me, but I do mine by topic and/or genre—hard sci fi, books with certain types of aircraft (particularly planes and airships), historical books, books on writing, steampunk books, literary books…

I’ve kind of been reading for research on top of pleasure, so certain topics that I want to learn about (or genres I want to learn to emulate in my own writing) are the most prevalent. I tend to keep the non-fiction, sci fi and fantasy near one another, too, but not always because for me topical organization usually overrides/crosses genre.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My books are organized by author (the only exception to this is school textbooks, they have their own shelves and are kept separate so I can get to them easily if I need to reference them). From there, all the books in one series are kept together and in order from first to last, any book not in a series is in alphabetical order. I know exactly where every book is, so I don’t really end up searching for one. If someone where to come in and ask to borrow a book, I could go right to it on any of the shelves.

Shegrin's avatar

Bookshelf from top to bottom:
Old classics/favorites
Spiritual musings
Beat writers
Reference books
Collector magazines and newspapers

meiosis's avatar

I remember where I put it, even if it’s years ago. I have a very visual memory and can picture in my mind’s eye where I put it. This is all screwed up if someone else puts a book back elsewhere, in which case I have to scan the shelves.

naomi29's avatar

We organize them by type (classic lit, modern lit, soc, psych, history, philosophy, theology, education, misc.). Within type we organize by last name or by sub type (for example, within sociology I have theory, methods, gender, race, class, juvenile, and criminology). Sometimes books can fit into more than one category (or sub category) I place the book in the category I would use it for most often. I also place related sub-categories next to each other.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My books were organized by subject.Not so much anymore.
I have to go on a search mission just to find what I need now.
I have plans to build bookshelves and when I finish that project,they will be organized again. :)

ccrow's avatar

Organized? Bwahahahaha!!!! :-D

Cruiser's avatar

Mine are all by category or I should say Yoga and all others. From there I line them up by color and size. One shelf is all paper backs again by size and color. I really find it easier to find the book I want this way as I remember the color of the book more than the name.

Earthgirl's avatar

cruiser That is so funny that you do it by color! I am very visual but I don’t think that would work for me.

janbb's avatar

I have some bookshelves that are vaguely catagorized – classic novels, medieval history, travel guidebooks, but most of my bookshelves are fairly randomly arranged. I have a pretty good memory for where things are located though, and can usually find what i want quickly. My “incoherence” is a slight rebelliion against my day job since I am a librarian.

Earthgirl's avatar

lucillelucillelucille I will never have enough shelf space! I did organize the books when I moved a few years ago. It drove my husband crazy. He was like, “just GET RID OF THEM!” not all of them, just some, pleease!!! What I did was buy a ton of cardboard file boxes at the office supply store. Then I printed out big letter sized sheets of paper to label the ends with each category, for non-fiction. For fiction, I went with alphabetical and I typed the list into the computer as I was packing them, book by book.that really drove him nuts!
It has worked out pretty well. I am generally able to find what I need. (I have about 40 boxes still packed this way and more books on my bookshelves)

tranquilsea's avatar

I have mine organized by genre and author but my kids mess with it, as they do with so many other things. Some shelves are reserved for authors as I have many of their books and I fully expect I’ll be buying more.

I’m up to six 8ft book shelves but I’m a two books deep on many of them. I need a couple more but I simply don’t know where I would put them. My dream is to eventually own a house where one room is the library.

Nullo's avatar

I just… sorta remember where I left the book.

gasman's avatar

By subject, mainly.

Since relocating cross-country about 4 years ago, I reduced my collection from about 200 linear feet down to maybe 140—discarding mostly periodicals. Most of my books are non-fiction, thus easily classified by subject. My fiction shelves have some space for “classics” stuffed at random, with the rest more-or-less chronological. I group biographies together at random.

If your shelves allow customizing vertical height, there’s some economy in grouping short and tall books on separate shelves. I keep oversize books (too tall for any other shelf) in one place and just remember that they’re there.

I try to leave space for new acquisitions yet inevitably must rearrange things (who’s got the time?) then still run out of room, resorting to placing books horizontally on top of the vertical ones. Similar to how adding new lanes to freeways never seems to improve traffic congestion. But that’s not the sad part.

What’s sad is that the entire library (that is, my book collection) is heading for obsolescence. This already happened to my vinyl records & music CDs, and soon DVDs etc—everything is (or should be) going online. Future generations will thank us for our sacrifice…

Working at home I used to consult my personal library frequently for explanations, clarifications, or to check facts. Now I do practically all of that online. Not that books themselves are obsolete, but I think amassing a personal physical library of books (even if you regard some of them as “old friends”) is increasingly pointless.

blueiiznh's avatar

Mine is organized by authors in the case of fiction.
I don’t have too many repeats of non-fiction, so it seems to be based on topic.
Reference or others are also based on topic (music, art (by artist), architecture, etc)

flutherother's avatar

I don’t have enough books to need a system and I remember where each book is. The way my shelves are spaced the large books are on the lowest shelf. I am going to catalogue my collection here

robinsa's avatar

I try to keep everything separated into genres, and within the genres i alphabetize.

Plucky's avatar

I organize mine by genre (and within those are subgenres but size is also important in location). I rarely have to search for one of my books. After all this time, I just know my system I currently have 3 large book shelves full. And I still have more books in boxes that need placement.

YARNLADY's avatar

Fiction (nearly all are Science Fiction) alphabetically by author, non-fiction roughly Dewey Decimal System.

stardust's avatar

Not at all organised. That suits me just fine :)

Kardamom's avatar

My brother has a pretty good system that works well for him. He came up with “random” categories based on the types of books that he has. For example: biographies, books about plants, architecture, artists, home improvement etc. So he has the categories and puts all the appropriate books together and then he alphabetizes them within the category (either by author or by title) depending upon what makes more sense for the particular category.

This system wouldn’t be helpful for a stranger coming in to find something, but it works very well for my brother. Something like this could work if you can figure out your categories. You may have to take everything off the shelves to figure this out.

Carly's avatar

dewey decimal system ^_^

coffeenut's avatar

My books are sorted by custom sections that are sorted alphabetically by title.

martianspringtime's avatar

I lurk home decor websites and saw that a lot of people on this livejournal community organize their books in rainbow order and thought it looked fantastic. Feeling ambitious one day, I reorganized mine in the same way.
Awful idea! Looks really cool, but pretty useless unless you have the colours of your book spines memorized.
I plan to reorganize them all alphabetically either by author or by title this weekend. That’s how I used to have them, and it seems like it’s the best way.

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