How do you sort your personal offline library?
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I read that some people Fiction and then Non-Fiction by Subject, but what Subjects exactly? I'm having a hard time deciding what to include.
I personally have been grouping non-fiction and fiction together by author except for Biography (by subject name), Art, and Reference. I'm moving all of my books though, and I'm thinking there may be a better way.
As I see it, most people in their homes do Fiction by author and then some implement the dewey system or their own form of BISAC.
I think I have about 2-3,000 books (not all in librarything yet), and it seems like the size of your library matters a lot when picking a system, so I'm just curious what others are doing.
It also depends what sorts of books you have. We have science fiction and fantasy shelved in one room, thrillers in another (his books, and I don't have to see that they aren't in any discernable order), and other fiction in yet another. Oh, yes, children's books, books on the British canals, and books on India are in their own sections with the related nonfiction.
If you have a wide variety of nonfiction, a premade classification system may work for you, but Dewey may not be the best solution for a large collection concentrated on limited subjects. For one thing, mixing large and small books is an inefficient use of space when the main user of the collection knows the books involved. For another, different people will decide differently whether an Italian vegetarian cookbook belongs with cookbboks by country or with other vegetarian cookbooks. Is the same choice right for an Indian vegetarian cookbook? In my case, the Italian one is with the vegetarian cookbooks, but the Indian one with the other Indian cookbooks.
My theology books are shelved by a home grown system that works for me. My cookbooks and needlework books are not systematically shelved, but by topic and size in their bookcases.
On the other hand, I own ca. 400 books and I am the only one who uses them. Yet I have a strict shelving system because I'm also a classification geek. :)
I invented my own system based on BISAC, Thema, Dewey, Library of Congress Subject Headings, and my own imagination. Because I don't really own a lot of books, I did not mess with assigning numerical values to the concepts that underlay the system. Systems like Dewey really just have numbers because it keeps things concise and looks nice on the spine labels. It's the ideas that really matter.
I ended up with a system that tries to cover the broad spectrum of human knowledge, but also focuses on what I actually have in my collection. So broadly, I've got Humanities, Arts & Languages, Science & Mathematics, Special Topics, and Fiction. The Humanities section, for example, is far more granular than Science & Mathematics, because I read a lot of history and theology, but very little science and math.
I'm naturally a person who sees patterns, so maybe this comes easier to me than others, but I think if you start looking at your books and thinking, "What is the topic of this book?" about each one, you'll see that you tend to collect around certain topics and themes.