I ripped out nearly everything in my bookshelves today that wasn’t fiction,and started organizing by Dewey’s classification system. Almost instantly, I got slammed. For one, I have a LOT of 900s (History). For another, I have a fair number of 822.33 and 870 and 880. I also don’t have enough bookshelf space. Still, progress was made.
Did you ever see a sci-fi movie or read a sci-fi/fantasy book where crystals were used as storage media for information? My shelves were gross carbon. Now they are filled with seeds: groups of books on similar subjects, arranged in proper order, to which other books can be attached as needed.
I now have crystalline seeds in the 000s (General), the 100s (Philosophy & Psychology), the 200s (Religion), the 300s (Social Sciences), the 400s (Language & Philology), the 500s (Natural Science), the 600s (Technology & Useful Arts), and the rough outline of the 800s (Literature) done today. I also finished (finished!) the 920s (Biography). The 900s in general will have to wait.
Before, my shelves were packed. That is, they were solid books between solid pine shelves. Now there are gaps and openings… breathing space. Lattices of crystal, if you will, now exist in my bookshelves. To an eye like mine, used to seeing my bookshelf as a solid mass, it seems unnerving. On the other hand, it’s possible 1) to see where there are holes in my knowledge, and 2) see where my knowledge is dense and rich, and 3) see how I can improve the richness of my life.
It’s an interesting experience, organizing a library. It’s equivalent to re-setting all your knowledge, and starting at square one. Yet as books go back onto the shelves, there’s a tremendous pleasure in discovering what you know, what you want to know, what you yearn to know, and how those knowledges are interrelated.
Plus, you get to shelve Gary Ian Hoare right next to Robert Frost (I haven’t found any American poets whose last names begin with G in my library yet; they may be there, but I haven’t located them yet). And that’s rather cool.