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How-To: Organizing Your Books

Unless you're of minimalist mindset, keeping books around can give your home a cozy look, add interest to a room, fill up empty space, make a place feel more like home, and reveal your personality to guests — not to mention keep you entertained. But when your library is simply causing visual and physical clutter in your home, it's time for a reassessment. It's time to hit the books! How you organize your books is another reflection of your personality — design-oriented, Type A, intellectual, etc, but actually logging down an inventory of your books will help you systematically and in case you lose track of them somehow. So, I'll give you a potpourri of options, and you can choose your own scent. To hear seven options,

  • Color-coordinated. Organizing your books by spine color, in a rainbow colored lineup or otherwise, can add visual appeal to a room. This technique is fit for design fiends, who don't mind having to search a bit to find the book you need. Look at it this way: there's a world of possibility in your snooze-worthy scientific encyclopedias that you never thought were cool. Wanna see how it looks? Check out my bookcase.
  • Digitally. There's a handful of software that will help you catalog your books, including Readerware for Books, Booxter, and Delicious Monster. I've yet to test these out, but most reviews are favorable.
  • Dewey Decimal System. This one's an ode to my grade school librarian, who was a staunch proponent of Melvil Dewey. It organizes your books into 10 main classes, 10 further divisions, and then 10 sections. Decimals allow it to be numerical as well as hierarchical, so similar topics will also have similar numbers, and books are arranged on the shelf in increasing numerical order, not necessarily by topic.
  • Library of Congress System. This system, developed by, you guessed it, the Library of Congress, divides subjects into broad categories, which are given letters, and assigns call numbers to each book. So, books of the same topic are on the same shelf.
  • Utility. Keep books your rarely need to use in the hard to reach places, and the ones you read frequently in easy to access places. Put display books, art books, etc., at eye level so your guests can enjoy them.
  • Genre. Rather than organizing books simply by topic, organize them by genre. Keep all your naughty fiction novels in one place, travel books in another, reference books in another, self-help in another, etc., much like a bookstore would. Use bookends between each section so they're visually easy to find, even if each book doesn't have a set place.
  • Vertical free-for-all. If a classification system isn't for you, go for vertical bookcases which will keep your books looking clutter-free, even if there's nothing systematic about them.

Don't have books? Check out my home library for suggestions.

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