Our Library, The Alphabet and a Good Crafting Intention

Our ‘Snowbird’ Community has a small Library. The volunteer librarians have developed a book filing system that theoretically allows them to house the largest number of books. The books are sorted by subject, then by size, then alphabetically by author’s name. This means that book cases with shorter paperback books have one more shelf than the taller hard cover book cases.

The problem with this system becomes apparent when the users want to find books by a particular author. Books by Stephen King, for example, can be found in 6 different locations – non-fiction, science fiction, fiction paperback, fiction hard cover, mystery paperback, and mystery hard cover. On any given day, the whim of the volunteer who shelves the book will determine where the book is.  This means that two hard cover copies of a single book will invariably be shelved in two different places.

Now and then, whole shelves of books will simply disappear. I’m assuming there were multiple copies of some books, and they were  donated to another little library. But in a system like this, it would be very time consuming to find duplicates. Suspiciously though, most of the books by my favourite British authors have disappeared…

This library really is an interesting example of how logic and good intentions can have unintended consequences.

Logic is a large drawer, containing some useful instruments, and many more that are superfluous. A wise man will look into it for two purposes, to avail himself of those instruments that are really useful, and to admire the ingenuity with which those that are not so, are assorted and arranged.
– Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon –


527-rudolphcorksI can appreciate what can happen to good intentions. Last Christmas I was going to make a whole herd of Cork Rudolphs. Their little bodies and heads would be etched with the ‘alphabet soup‘ of the wine world. Each little ungulate would be a reminder of  those special events when the wine flowed freely.

After many attempts, much oddly bent wire, and a bit of blood letting, a single reindeer was produced. Wine corks firmly resist any attempt to poke wires into them…

YOUR TURN: How do you organize your library? Do you alphabetize anything besides books?

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge is Alphabet

26 thoughts on “Our Library, The Alphabet and a Good Crafting Intention

  1. I’m vaguely ashamed to admit my books aren’t ‘filed’. They are randomly stacked on every available shelf .. not to mention the reading ‘queue’ sitting on my bedside table.
    IF I was ever going to get around to sorting my books, it would be by author … and even then unlikely to be in alpha order.

    … the reindeer is really cute. Another example of a great idea skewered by the reality of execution 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I organize my books by author, but not necessarily in alphabetic order (basically its by how much shelf-space they require!) For each author, I try to organize by publication year (especially for those who write in series format). I did, at one time, keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the books in my library (alphabetic, by author, then pub year, then title), which I would print whenever I went book shopping (generally at thrift shops or library withdrawal sales) because I couldn’t keep track of what I had; now I try to buy only specific books I know I need to complete a set or continue a series (because I’ve run out of shelf space). All my DVDs are alphabetized (movies in one bookcase, documentaries and TV series in another) to make it easier to find the one I want at any given time.

    P.S. I should admit here that I belonged to the Library Club in high school and has aspirations at one of time working in that field (I didn’t, but the urge to organize books has remained with me!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose we could call this the ‘Mixed Method’. I use one similar to this, though I do sort by subject first. (I don’t think my craft books should be mixing with The Car Guys Car books – they would be at odds with one another…)
      I have a spreadsheet of books I’ve read and books that have been recommended. I keep it on my Samsung Tab as a quick reference when I am at the library or the Goodwill store.


  3. I was a member of the library club as well so, in theory, I know what the proper filing system for books is. In reality, that’s not how I do it at home. Fiction is filed on various shelves by author, depending on how much space they take up. Non-fiction is grouped by subject. And my cookbooks have an entire cabinet to themselves and are filed by size, tallest to shortest. Somehow, it works. But when I go to a library, I expect books to be filed “properly”. Fiction should be alphabetical by author and non-fiction should follow the Dewey Decimal System. Yup. I’m a snob that way. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My cookbooks are in a separate location too! I also have a few shelves dedicated just to books that I plan on reading soon. Then, there are the books on our night tables, which are in the process of being read.


  4. Library? Organized? Mine? Surely you jest! At best the books on my shelves might be arranged by size, so as to present a neat appearance. At least, it starts that way. Before long there will be strays tossed in to lie horizontally across the tops of those below. Or small ones dropped at the front of the shelf, hiding those behind. Looking for a particular book? It’s in there. Somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “Random Jumble” system with undertones of good intentions. I know people who use your system and are quite content with it.


  5. Kind of funny, we were recently having some friends over so I was house cleaning and while dusting the bookshelves I decided to clean some books out… 4-5 cartons of liitle kids books from when my kids were toddlers… yep one will be in college next year! Guess we’re not in the shelves that much! So can’t really answer your question… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Steve – does your wife appreciate what a catch you are? House cleaning and dusting!
      I remember cleaning out the little kids books – I sent them off with the ‘little kids’ when they moved away from home! I did keep a few, though – the ones that were my favourites to read to little kids. And, I do have just a very few from when I was a little kid. I expect they are collector’s items now!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh believe me I’m no clean freak, but I do most of the house cleaning, dish washing, etc. Just more time than the wife has since I have a home office and work from home a lot. Plus she’s much better at cooking and grocery shopping and that sort of thing. So it all balances out nicely!


  6. I used to have about a 5000 volume library and I actually paid a friend (who needed a job at the time) to come in and Dewey Decimalize the whole thing for me. Why? Because I have been at odds with the entire concept of ‘categorization’ for my entire life. I have never been very good about putting things into category because I could always see that any given thing might adequately fit into several categories and it drove me mad trying to decide which of several equally suitable designations was best. Alpha by Author is only good if you only have one kind of book — say mystery, or romance. But who wants to look through every letter of the alphabet if you want non-fiction? or reference?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head! Which category?!
      I know so many people, including ourselves, who end up with fairly large home libraries. Many of us downsize now and then – but the books just accumulate again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Our CD’s and DVD’s are alphabetical too – but they are the domain of The Car Guy. I expect he has come across the same dilemmna – where do you file any band whose name started with ‘The’?


  7. As a card-carrying member of the COD (Compulsive Organizational Disorder) club, I admire this system. Who needs to be able to find a book as long as it looks orderly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just knew you would have a unique method of being orderly disordered. I’m thinking this method would include those who arrange books by colour, or other such eye pleasing compositions.


  8. I’ve just done a ruthless sort and chuck on my bookshelves. The Eldest Son’s shelves were overflowing and now there are spaces. “Oh good,” he says. “Room for more.” Sigh. We’ll never reach the end of it.

    I group sets of books from the same author together but the rest are just random.

    I alphabetise the DVDs after sorting for format (DVD/Blu Ray) and TV/Movie.


        1. Your mayor apparently doesn’t appreciate what the future holds for the library – rather than a center of information, they become a center of culture. Our little library is in our community centre. The library is a place to meet and play cards; read the local newspaper; pick up a magazine to read while you are on the treadmill; look at the artifacts that were discovered while the community was being built; donate books and borrow books; pick up a tall cup of ice water after using the gym. The list goes on and on.


  9. How can I leave a comment when I’m still laughing about the Cork Rudolphs?? Cork Rudolphs??? I thought I had a good working knowledge of Christmas knickknacks, but that’s a new one! Glad you weren’t seriously injured, my dear Margie!!

    As with most of the other commenters, my library is an absolute disgrace. I think I can offer a new wrinkle, however. Some years ago, after running out of shelf room, I started stacking books in the closet here in my spare bedroom studio. I keep bringing more home from library book sales. I should stop going to book sales until I’ve read what I’ve got, right? But no– I keep going because I’m always afraid I’ll miss something good. I hate to think how many are in there…

    When I finish reading one, it goes in a bag in the cellar for donation to… library book sales. I may be buying some of my own stuff. A sad case am I… 😕


    1. Book stacking is a well known, and accepted way of storing books! Just goes to show that there as many ways of keeping a library as there are people who read books!

      We go to those library book sales too and our solution to buying the same thing back is ‘a list’. Yes, we made a list of books we’ve read. If we’ve read it, we don’t really need to buy it!


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