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How Do You Organize Your Library?

How Do You Organize Your Library?

Are you the “throw ’em anywhere” type, or are you the type of person to meticulously organize and sub-categorize books by genre/author/year? Or somewhere in between?

How Do You Organize Your Library?” was the question John Ottinger posed in his latest Inside the Blogosphere feature.

Along with several other bloggers, I was asked to participate. Head on over there to see what we said.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

12 Comments on How Do You Organize Your Library?

  1. I organise mine by weight of books and strengh of shelves, they are then stacked back cover down double deep so I can get as many on my shelves as possible. They are kept by authors and thats about it, when I moved in to the flat I now live in it was to much effort and didn’t have enough time to do anything better and with a couple of thousand books I have gotten round to trying to sort authors alphabetically or by genre (not sure how doing by genre would work mind).

    That said I can walk straight to every author and find whatever book I want.

  2. I have half a dozen book cases (1 of which is cunningly placed on my front stairs as there was nowhere else to put it, apart from the back room) and a fair amount of shelving.

  3. Scott Cupp // March 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm //

    I have several areas that are in order – Joe Lansdale, Bill Crider, Neal Barrett, Jr., Hard Case Crime, Daniel Pinkwater.  Beyond that serendipity is the word.  Wherever I have space is where something goes.  After selling the big lot 2 years ago, I put the science fiction hardcovers in order.  thos ebooks have tended to stay put, but all new acquisitions are now wherever there is space.  It means I look a lot for things, but in doing so, always find something else that screams “Read me NOW” as I look.

  4. Maria Stahl // March 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm //

    It was once suggested to me that I should organize my books by color.


    No, I’m not kidding.

  5. Pikers. (OK, not Scott.)

    Behold my library, ye mortals, and despair!

    For the first edition hardback fiction:

    • 9 custom built 8 high bookcases, 92″ x 36″
    • 9 custom built 5 high bookcases, 72″ x 36″
    • 1 2-shelf bookcase given to me by Howard Waldrop (who had gotten it from George R. R. Martin) right next to the bottom of the staircase, used to store oversized books.


    • 1 generic 5 shelf 72″ x 30″ bookcase for trade paperbacks, chapbooks, proofs, etc.
    • 1 custom built 11-shelf bookcase roughly 84″ x 48″ for mass market paperbacks

    (All the custom built bookcases are made of real wood, and all of the five highs and most of the 8-highs were stained and varnished by Howard Waldrop for me; I did the rest. Most of the generic 5-high bookcases are made out of crappy particle board.)

    For the hardback non-fiction in my office on the second floor:

    • 1 long shelf in the computer desk hutch for various stuff
    • 1 short shelf on the computer desk to the immediate right of the computer for my most frequently used SF reference works (see the non-fiction list at the bottom of this page here, plus the Levack Dick and Zelazny bibliographies, and the Hewett Vance bibliography).
    • 1 custom built 8 high bookcases, 92″ x 36″, with most of the rest of the SF reference works.
    • 5 generic five high bookshelves of various makes and models, most generic 5 highs, holding the remaining SF reference works, art books, graphic novels, contributor copies, and many different types of non-fiction books.
    • Plus some 7 different bookcases in the Lame Excuse Books stock room.

    Somewhere in excess of 5,000 books for my own library, and another 2,000 or so volumes worth of stock.

  6. @Lawrence: Sweet Jeebus! :O

  7. ianmorris // March 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm //

    i group books with the same author together and that is about it.

  8. I’m pretty anal about it.  In a perfect world, I would have all my books separated by fiction/non-fiction/reference, then by genre, then alpha by author.  Within each author, I like to group each series in chronological order (if applicable.)  Using this system, I know right where my books are and I have a better grasp on which books came out in which year.

    Unfortunately, my wife is the “throw ’em anywhere” type.

    As a result, I have no idea where the hell my books are.  I tried to find one over the weekend, without success.  🙁

  9. Tom Evans // March 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm //

    Library of Congress when I organize at all.

  10. Books that I want people to know that I read so that they’ll think about how smart and educated I am go on the middle (eye level) shelves of the large, prominent shelf in my living room.

    Books that I’m ashamed to own (like Dan Brown novels) tend to get hidden in the bedroom.

  11. If I organized my library I’d never find what I wasn’t looking for, which I thought was the point of such things.


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