I did better for a couple of nights, but tonight I’m still up after going out to dinner with friends and drinking more than is good for sleep. This is at least “good” insomnia; eventually I will be ready for bed.

As an aside, I was out with a Scot and a speaker of the Queen’s English (as a second language), and off at another table directly in my line of sight was a woman who looked remarkably like Helen Cooper (at least I thought so; did I mention the drinking?), so I kept wondering where the hell I was and how I had been transported there.

But anyway! So you remember that bookcase-cleaning project. Bookcase #3 is the one that was driving me craziest, because of things stuffed in on top of the shelved books, and assorted non-book objects on the shelves to keep them away from Basement Cat’s paws when he was a kitten. I really wanted to get it sorted before classes start. So, since I’m not yet done with my syllabus, I began work on that today, and have been continuing after dinner tonight.

Now, on the first two bookcases I did not do a lot of rearranging books. In the first place, those two are mainly “reference” books (the 1913 Britannica, for example; foreign language dictionaries; anthologies), and while of course those too have Library of Congress numbers, I don’t feel urgently that I must range those books by LC number. In the second place, the books on those two cases really need to be organized by size as much as anything else, because of space limitations. So I managed to get things better grouped by subject, while still more or less in the configuration in which I’m used to seeing them, and called it a day.

But Bookcase #3 (I wish there were room for busts of Roman emperors on the tops; maybe I should just post photos of my grad school professors instead*), bookcase #3 starts what I think of as my real library. That is, the books that I have grouped by subject, but of which there are now enough that I have trouble remembering what’s there. So (syllabus not being done yet, you recall) this seemed like the perfect time—since I was taking everything off the shelves to clean anyway—to get them sorted into LC order. Roughly! They are only ordered by letters, at this point. Fine-tuning will wait for some other OCD attack. I’ve done three and a third shelves: BR, BV, BX (not many of these); CB; D, DA (lots of these), DC; HN, HQ (quite a lot of these, too), HV.

But there are three books I want to have in with the DAs because I’m used to seeing them there, and because I don’t have that many other books they should go with: SK, U, Z. Well, actually, I have a fair number of Zs, but they’re usually not bibliographies in the sense that this one is. It’s basically a bibliography of DAs. So these are staying where I expect to find them. They’re off at the end of the section, though. I want them there. Really, I do. Only it bothers me a bit, now that I know their real LC identities, that they’re hanging out with the DAs.

This is why I want to stick photographs on the shelves and give my books shelfmarks like Johnson A.15. Except I don’t really, because a large part of the point of having my books in LC order is so I can find them in the same way I find them in the library—especially when I get round to the PRs, my biggest section (and the new contender for messiest case).

Insomniac, OCD, deranged, procrastinatory nerd. I should have been tidying the syllabus and creating my annual review documents. But you would not believe how satisfying it is to have the bookshelves in better order. (You really wouldn’t believe it if you saw my kitchen: it does not suggest an orderly person running it.)

As soon as I find a way to keep Basement Cat from running off with my earrings, I’ll be set.

*This is an English-medievalist-nerd joke. If you are not among our numbers, look up Robert Cotton’s library.

6 thoughts on “Insomniac nerd

  1. Maybe instead of Roman folks you could get busts or action figures!! of authors? I've seen Shakespeare and Austen action figures, and there have to be more! (Seriously, an Oliver Cromwell action figure would rock! Or a Marie de France one!)I admire the LoC work! Mine are alphabetically by author (for non-fiction) or in groups for lit.

  2. You remind me of my husband. He must organize everything in such complicated manners that I refuse to put away CDs or have anything to do with his books. My books are arranged by how pretty certain ones look together. Work books are organized by course relevance, except that some of teh larger once can only fit in certain spots. Non-pretty and non-work books are just..well there.

  3. CPP, when you measure your books in shelf-feet, not individual volumes, you have to do something to make them searchable. But I've only arranged the work books by LC number; popular fiction, downstairs, is alphabetized without regard to origin or date.

  4. I so understand. Organized bookshelves = bliss.To the extent that I went to campus and cleaned my office for three days straight during break. I know where every book is on those shelves and I'm kind of giddy about that. Even though people walking down the hall were all WHAT are you DOING HERE? Go home! You're on break! 😉

  5. I didn't try a LoC arrangement when reorganizing my office bookshelves but now I'm soooo tempted. Books are organized by teaching subject (so there's a shelf for the Ancient Near East, another few for medieval and a whole whackload for early modern England, say) which often replicates LoC in some part but not perfectly.Hmmmm. very tempting! Especially if I could score a couple of busts of Nero and company to top my shelves!

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