Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gettin' organized

Since my carpal tunnel syndrome limits my writing temporarily, I've been working the last few nights getting the books in my library organized. When I first shelved them in the new library, they were somewhat organized - all the cavalry stuff, all the Gettysburg books, etc., were in sections of their own. The rest was pretty much a mish-mash. I could find things, but I often did spend a lot of time going through the nearly 4,000 volumes to find a book, and there was really no rhyme or reason to most of the shelves.

Even the cavalry shelves were not truly organized - regimentals, reminiscences, biographies, battles and campaigns - all were mixed together. The only thing I had separated was Federal subjects from Confederate.

Now I'm digging in. Now all Federal regimentals are separated, and organized by state. Same for the Confederate (I have every single regimental ever published). All battles and campaigns are separated and organized chronologically. And biographies are alphabetical in their section. And all those shelves are labeled. Gotta find Convis' bio of Myles Keogh? Sure - it's beside Pohanka's and right between the Wade Hampton bios and Fitz Lee!

Now I'm moving on to battles/campaigns - I haven't decided whether to do them chronologically or alphabetically. I'm leaning toward alphabetical, though. Anyone have any suggestions? It may look weird on the shelves having the Antietam books next to Appomattox, but they'd be easy to find.

I think, too, that once I have all the volumes organized, I'm going to start my own Dewey Decimal system of sorts. For example, let's say I make Federal cavalry regimental histories category 100. Organized alphabetically by state, the first would be 100.1, the next 100.2, etc. Should a new one come out, it can be numbered and placed in proper order. Then maybe Confederate regimentals would be the 101 section. Gettysburg and each of its sections might be 102, 103 etc. Battles and campaigns would go alpabetically in their own sections. Making all those little number labels for the spines will be, uh, fun... I think?

The numbering system would finally enable me to computerize a catalog of the books so I can finally list them for an easy search, too. That will really come in handy for the xerox and computer-printed copies of books I also have (thank goodness for that part of Google Books) - there are hundreds of them as well. I have each of those in binders, and there's no organization to them right now either. The thousands and thousands of copies of newspaper articles and manuscript documents is even worse - right now sometimes I have to hunt for hours to find a particular article or paper. (A joke around my house is when my wife asks, "Find it yet?" "No." "Find it yet?" "No!" "Find it yet?" "Noooooo!")

Anyway, I'm getting there. I fully expect that by the time I'm much too old and senile to write anymore, the library will finally be organized....


  1. J.D.,

    In terms of the Battles and Campaigns, I would place them on the shelves in chronological order. But that's just me.

    BTW, the joke here is Where the bleep is that bleeping book? :)

    Take care.


  2. I agree with Steve, chronological is the way to go. I also separate mine by theater. Also why not just use the dewey decimal system instead of creating your own, they've already done the legwork for you.

  3. Thanks Nick - I thought of just using the system, but it's easier having each subject in it's own section. Makes it easier to find the volumes. The DDS as-is would spread the books out.
    Steve, I've seen your book collection - if anyone need organization it's you :))

  4. J.D.,

    Let me know what the final system is. The contractor starts work on the basement on Monday, so I'll probably start organizing mine about the time you get finished.... 8^)


  5. Don,
    LOL - I decided to go alphabetical with the biographies, and I think I'll do the same with the battles/campaigns. Just seems to be the easiest way to quickly locate a book.
    As for all the miscellaneous general reference books, that one I haven't figured out yet :)