Saturday, 26 September 2009

On Orderings Of Books

An awesome thing happened on Thursday evening. I ended up alone in a room with an unordered bookshelf. And 25 minutes to do what I pleased with it. I KNOW! I was like a child in a toy shop, a bull in a china shop and... umm... me in a bookshop? Anyhow, moving on...

I began, of course, by taking all the books off the shelf and putting them on the floor. In such a situation, this is the only proper way to begin. Next, I removed the videos and cassette tapes which had weaseled their way in, and put them on a separate shelf, at the top.

And then, I had to decide on a system. And to be honest, it wasn't easy. I thought of sorting by author, but they weren't really that kind of book (the bookshelf in question was our church 'library', whose stock mostly consists of books people were clearing out - not that this is a bad thing, but it makes the selection a little... random). They're the kind of books you want to browse, and sorting by author doesn't lend itself to browsing.

Next, I considered organising them asthetically - either by colour, height, or a combination of both. This would have worked well in terms of making them look pretty, and with a certain amount of effort, one can get a fairly pleasing arrangement in this manner, but eventually I decided there wasn't enough variation in the colours and sizes of the books for it to be entirely satisfactory.

So, finally, I settled on arranging them by subject - 'prayer', 'Bible study', 'Christian tat' etc. - and within that to go for alphabetical order of either author or title.

This progressed well, and for a time I was even wondering where I could get a hold of a copy of the Dewey Decimal system (as used in public libraries) and make the appropriate modifications to ensure that I had covered all categories correctly, but I was interrupted by everyone else arriving for the meeting for which I had been 25 minutes early, so I didn't get to finish. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

5 comments:

Virtual Methodist said...

Please come and feel free to sort our church library which leaves me hyperventilating most Sundays... Regular surreptitious clear-outs of the very worst of Christian tat has done little to alleviate my condition.

whynotsmile said...

OH! I remember browsing your library when I was there for... whatever that was that I was in your church for last year. And thinking it was good, but could do with some sorting. I could start a business doing this...

I could always come and do it when I come to discuss the website thing that you volunteered me for at Conference Arrangements Committee, but you haven't told me about yet.

I have my sources.

andmilestogobeforeisleep said...

this reminds of the time an unnamed person (though not me!) rearranged a bookshelf of Bible commentaries by the colour of the cover... a novel approach

andmilestogobeforeisleep said...

this reminds of the time an unnamed person (though not me!) rearranged a bookshelf of Bible commentaries by the colour of the cover... a novel approach

whynotsmile said...

Hmmm... interesting... I'm not completely sure I approve though - I have always thought that commentaries should go in order of books of the Bible. It always seemed The Only Way. I'll have to think about it.