A friend recently posted on Facebook about how she has organized her library in her new house, and it made me realize I need to rethink my own organization, but it’s a monumental task. There are a lot of books to organize.
When I bought this house in 2001, I had bookshelves built in the living room, on the lowest level, and in the loft where my office would be. I also brought with me from my old house some freestanding floor-to-ceiling shelving units that went into my bedroom and the guest room. As the collection grew, I added some lower units in the hallway just outside the guestroom and one more small unit for my bedroom. I long ago ran out of space on the shelves and I’ve run out of space for new shelves, so I’ve been slowly culling, but it’s a long process. I haven’t really stopped buying books, either, so I’m swimming against the tide.
Here’s the current organization:
Fiction begins in the living room, arranged alphabetically by author. (You can see those shelves behind me in the photo.) It continues in the hallway and into the guest room. However, there’s no more space on those shelves, so more recently acquired fiction is in my office, which is on the 3rd floor. Which means if I’m looking for a book, I have to remember when I bought it or look in two places. I ought to reconcile this arrangement or remove enough books that all the fiction could be on one level. Also, there’s a small shelf on top of which I have piled the newest of the new books, the ones I haven’t squeezed into their proper places. Asian Fiction (mostly in translation) is a separate shelf in the guest room, although newer books in that category are shelved (or piled) with the others in my office.
Poetry is similarly divided. There’s one poetry shelf in the guestroom–mostly anthologies and classics I’ve had forever–and another in my office for the more recent stuff. In fact, the recent poetry books are piled on top of a shelf because there’s no more room. No organization here because they aren’t shelved.
Drama is in the guest room.
Nonfiction is scattered, but not as badly as the fiction, and it’s arranged pretty haphazardly, so I have to scan the shelves to find anything. Philosophy and Psychology are in my office (because I was a philosophy major with a minor in psychology, I guess) as is Writing (I have a nice collection of books about the craft) and my reference books. I also have some general nonfiction that came to me relatively recently, some in the office and some in my bedroom. Asia Nonfiction–lots of books about Korea, China, and Japan–and Language books are in my bedroom along with the oversized Art books.
Literary Magazines used to occupy space on the shelves in my office, but they had to make way for books, so they are now in boxes until I can figure out what to do with them.
Something needs to be done.