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Sun, 9 Nov 2003

Libraries, and the ordering thereof

With new bookshelves comes the need to fill 'em. Two of the eight shelves are obvious - dictionaries, thesauruses, and other books about English As She Is Spoke. That leaves a handy little hole where I can dump my mail and stuff.

But what of the others? Comic books, obviously, being oversize, fit nicely in Ten Ton Monster-sized shelves and I guess that games and books about games fit well with that mini-theme. Then, being a computer geek, there's plenty of computery and mathematics books. They go together nicely too. But that's the easy bit.

How do I split up fiction? Do I arrange it by genre or by author? Do I split it into "serious" fiction and "the rest"?

Histories, biographies, politics, and philosophy - how on earth do I disentangle that lot? Is Plato's "Republic" philosophy or politics? Is Suetonius's "Lives of the Caesars" history or biography? What about alternate histories, like Sobel's "For Want of a Nail" - file under history or fiction? And if under fiction, under historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, or what?

Right now, I only have a thousand or so volumes, split across 20 shelves in two rooms. It's hard enough to find a particular title now - I can't even *remember* what I have now, and every month or so I find a duplicate lurking somewhere - and I hate to think what it'll be like in another few years. So, I need a decent filing system, which will scale up to at least of the order of ten thousand titles, and ideally more.

It must ... allow quick access to a particular title; allow easy return of a title to the correct place so that it can be found again; allow easy browsing amongst related titles; make it hard to have duplicates; allow for continuous growth in all categories; cope with foreign languages; and not make me reorganise all the damned shelves every few months to fit in new acquisitions. And preferably without a bloody database, although if absolutely necessary I might do that.

This must be a solved problem!

Posted at 14:10 by David Cantrell