Read On! Organizing a Personal Library

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

I get asked a lot about the best ways to organize a personal library. To be honest, there is no right or wrong way as long as the way you’ve chosen to organize your library works for you. Even if what works for you is to organize by size and color.

The whole point of organizing any library – personal or public – is so you can find the materials you want easily. In my personal movie library, I classify everything into two main categories with two subcategories. The main categories are: “Kids” and “Not Kids.” Within my “Not Kids” category, I have the subcategories “TV Series” and “Movie Series.” Then, according to their category or subcategory, I dump the movies into a cloth-covered bin and put the bins in a cube storage organizer.  

I classify our books and comic books a bit differently and with more complicated categories and subcategories. But like our movies, I have not put our books and comic books in alphabetical or Dewey Decimal order. They aren’t dumped in bins, but they’re not shelved with meticulous care either.

That works for us. We know where things are and we don’t have a personal library large enough that we need to be more specific in our categorization or shelving.

For anyone wanting to keep track of a personal library with more than a spreadsheet, I always recommend Library Thing. It’s a free (up to 200 items) online tool to help catalog and inventory your personal library. Some organizations like churches and small law libraries use Library Thing for their public collections. It lacks some of the features of a more robust library software package (like the ability to print spine labels), but it’s pretty neat and very functional for a mostly free service.

If you need more books for your personal library, check out our perpetual book sale in the Graham Ave. vestibule.