Month: October 2013

How to Organize a Large Personal Library

The Problem:

My wife got me a t-shirt that says “I got 99 problems, but my books ain’t one”, and while there is some debate on whether that is true or not…  one thing that has been a problem is the organization of my books.   With around 1,000 books in our house, I had struggled for years to find a paradigm to use to organize them, such that I could quickly get a book on a particular topic when I wanted it.

Like Aristotle, my first thought was to have a philosophy of ontology, such that everything would have a clear hierarchical category.   And in fact, I developed the A to Z Framework for Formal Education Systems based upon my attempt to have a clear method of categorization of my books related to education (which now are predominant in my library).  But, as prototype theory is showing, classic views of ontology are psychologically false.  And even if hierarchical categorization of entities didn’t have innate problems, there would still be a problem with organizing books, because no book only covers one topic.  So, every manner I attempted to layout my books, whether one dimensionally or even two dimensionally on my bookshelf, just didn’t work.

To first try and solve this problem, I read several webpages about  organizing personal libraries, and I also looked at what library science had developed, including the categorization of the Dewey Decimal System, the Library of Congress, and other systems.  All of them had the same inherent issues that I had discovered, and were pragmatically worse for my personal use, than my classification system.

The Solution:

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