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Record-Keepers and the Challenges of Organization

My plate’s been not-quite-full at North Star this week, so Curtis gave me a task: organizing our record-keepers.

Let me back up. Since North Star was founded in 1969, the press has kept two copies (generally) of every book published—record-keepers. We had them pretty much centralized on one bookcase, but a few were scattered elsewhere. Last winter, before we remodeled, we boxed them all up and put them in the warehouse. Where they’ve sat since. Over the summer I went through a few boxes and put them in piles according to their publication years, but nothing much happened, as we still need to put up the new bookshelves. Plus, I thought I had gotten through most of them.

I was wrong.

Yesterday and today, Curtis brought out more boxes for me to go through. A lot more boxes. Luckily, I like organizing books. My biggest issue has been when I discover a big ol’ eight and a half by eleven . . . that needs to go on a stack of six by nines. And the stacks are not small anymore. They were threatening to topple onto our desks, so the years 2000 through 2015 now have two stacks each instead of one. We’re missing quite a few titles from 1969 until about the late ’80s, and I have no idea if the 1990s record-keepers are at all accurate. I suppose at some point I should go through our ISBN book and compare, but that seems like a lot of work. (As if it hasn’t been a lot of work already.) It’s organized chaos at the moment, but the key word is organized. To me, at least.

What’s funny is that it’s so different than how I organize my own bookshelves. But it makes sense for our organization. Before, we had books organized by author last name, which allowed us to have series together. The problem came when new books came out and we had to somehow find room on already-crammed shelves. This new way won’t allow for series by a single author to be grouped together, but will allow us to see how our designs have changed through the years—plus we’ll be able to simply add books to the end of the shelf every year.

My own books are grouped, for the most part, by genre/topic. Plus another bookcase that’s just what I’ve read lately and hope to read soon (which honestly doesn’t really work, but it was worth a try). For example, I have one little bookcase that’s full of books about the American West and Native American studies and history, which somehow segues into memoir (must be the history aspect). Two bookcases are organized by region—Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Caribbean, England, the United States . . . and then fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, middle grade on the bottom couple shelves. (Can’t remember quite why it’s organized like that. Must have been an available space thing.) Nature essays and cozy mysteries—possibly my favorite genres—hold coveted space on the itty-bitty bookshelf in my bedroom. I like them nearby, within easy reach.

Then take, for example, Andy. I’m not quite sure how his books are organized. I know they are, to him, but it’s entirely incomprehensible to me. Granted, my method doesn’t make any sense to him, either. (This does mean our books will be staying separate for quite a long time. We can come to compromises about a lot of things, but I don’t know if this will be one of them.)

What’s your preferred method for organizing your bookshelves? Do you organize by color? By publisher? By genre? Or something else entirely? (For a good discussion on the different ways shelves can be organized, check out this article over on Book Riot.)

Show me your shelfies! Here’s one of mine (this one shared with DVDs and assorted knick-knacks).


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