I’m having tons of fun cataloging my books. If anyone’s been watching the LibraryThing bloglet in my sidebar, it’s been oscillating wildly between my Africanist collection in the office and my science fiction shelves at home at various points during the day.
But anyway, a couple of little notes:
1. Don’t ever title a book “The Ties That Bind”. It may not be the most used title ever, but it’s pretty close.
2. Wow, do I ever have a lot of books from before the days of UPN/ISBN swipeable codes.
3. If you’re putting out a more recent edition of an old textbook in African history, especially one that you’ve only done minimal updates on, the easy way to demonstrate that it’s a recent edition is to put Nelson Mandela on the cover. I lost count of how many Africanist books have followed this strategy somewhere around number #12 or so.
4. Academic monographs from as recently as 1992 or so look like they were published in the Stone Age. In fact, sometimes they look older than books from the 1970s and 1980s. There’s a really interesting explosion of better cover designs for academic works, even monographs, in the later 1990s.
5. I had no idea how many books I own duplicate copies of until I tackled this.
6. I also had forgotten how many weird and old books I had. Also how many books I’ve actually brought home from southern Africa over a decade and a half of travelling there.
7. Also I had forgotten how many times I’ve evidently cleaned out Acres of Books of Africanist stuff. I must have every single “jungle doctor” book ever published. (Acres of Books is my favorite used book store in the world. I’ve also cleaned them out of their entire shelf of futurist books, twice. But I haven’t gotten to those yet in my catalog.)
The library thing is addictive. I just wasted alot of time making sure that I have the correct covers for all of my books.
Yeah, that I gave up on, because a lot of the books I have are very old editions, or South African/Zimbabwean editions–I’d have to scan a lot of the covers myself.
As a person desperately in need of a library reorganization, I’ve got some questions for you: are you organizing sheerly alphabetically? Or are you fist making divisions by subject matter? If not by subject matter, are you at least breaking up, say, fiction, non-fiction, and children’s fiction?
Loose divisions by subject matter. At the office, I’m going alphabetically within subject matter–all the African-related books together, world history together, anthropology and cultural studies together, and so on. Organizing alphabetically at home just seems too crazy, so it’s just by subject matter. Most of my science fiction is grouped, I have about two shelves for “books I plan to read soon/recent acquisitions”. All my graphic novels are together except for the ones like Powers that I don’t want my daughter to look at. Humor, baseball, urban planning, etc. are together; my wife keeps all her exercise and conditioning books on one shelf. Then we have about five shelves of miscellaneous stuff.
Hey, Acres of Books! My parents live about fifteen minutes away (and they’ve been going there since the 1960s), so I drop in whenever I visit them. Unfortunately, I think I cleaned them out of their best nineteenth-century stuff when I was a graduate student, although I can usually find something.
I’ve also got a lifetime supply of books with no ISBNs–which happens when you’re a Victorianist–but Amazon apparently has a world’s-record number of Victorian sermons in its catalog. It’s bizarre.