07 November 2012


The remnants of having worked in libraries are, for me, the compulsions to straighten books on the shelves (at home, at the library, at the bookstore), to put books back in order when they are out of order, and to organize my own books. This is, as always, an interesting exercise.

When J. and I got married and combined our libraries (admittedly, mine was much larger, but he contributed a number of very heavy science books), I decided that since we were combining libraries and moving in, I might as well alphabetize things and stick them in some kind of file so I'd have a list of what we had. The document included author's names and titles, and no more detail than that. I'd separated the fiction from the non-fiction, but didn't bother to organize based on any other system (admittedly better than my previous system, which involved book size and favourites).

That has changed. When we moved again, having sorted the books into boxes based on alphabet section, re-organizing was easier. Then, last summer, I went on a cataloguing kick. Our nonfiction is now arranged according to a bastardized version of Library-of-Congress and catalogued in an excel document that includes publication dates, editors, translators, and other salient details.

I've been meaning to properly catalogue the fiction and tidy it up (skipping the rearranging by genre, since the collection isn't really big enough to justify that yet--alphabetizing the fiction is fine for now), but it's taken a while to get there. I've been doing it by letter over the last few days. I just finished the "E" section. Eco, Eddings, Edwards, Eliot, Ende. A very short section. The "C" was impressive for my selection of Beverly Cleary's work. I don't own all of her books, but I do have most of them. I'm almost looking forward to the "J" section: between Brian Jacques and Diana Wynne Jones, there's a lot of books there.

Is this symptomatic of some form of OCD? I delight in arranging and re-arranging things. They just don't usually stay organized (which means I get to re-arrange them again). If this is OCD, it is at least a form I can live with. I'm not quite so bad as my brother, who immediately goes to the kitchen and re-arranges the drawer of measuring cups whenever he visits my parents. Speaking of, I re-arranged my measuring cups the other day. The drawer is much tidier now that the odd items that J. put in there are back in their proper places. I have a system. Really. You just wouldn't know it to look at my kitchen right now.

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