So you already know that I’m a librarian. Organizing books is kind of what I get paid for. I also have a lot of books at home, most of which I like to wave around in the hopes that they will magically help me write my thesis. And so I can remember the names of the authors through osmosis when my thesis supervisor asks me to back up some theory or another. But the collection is growing, and it’s getting a little out of hand, hard to find some things. So I decided to catalogue the whole thing using Library of Congress call numbers (LCCN).
I love walking through the narrow, ceiling-high stacks of MUN’s QEII Library. For all of MUN’s failings, they did a good job on their book collection, and it’s rare that I can’t find what I want. MUN, like most university libraries in North America, uses the LCCN system, which is sorted by subject. I spend my time mostly in the Gs and Hs, but occasionally I branch out. I’m not looking forward to the day when I have a real job and no longer have access to libraries like this, with free journal articles at my beck and call.
The best part about the system is that when I’m looking for a specific title, I can always find other titles on the exact same subject (like hegemonic masculinity in team sports, for example, one of my pet subjects) right next to each other. So I figured that if I did that with my own personal collection, then all my own books would be adjacent to books on similar topics, which saves me a search. In addition, if I have a book at home and I know the LCCN for it then I can go to the library and know that any book with a similar number will be on the same topic.
So I did it. I have about 450 books, and it didn’t take that long, a few hours here and there with a pen and some address labels. Most books, at least the academic ones, will come with the LCCN printed on the back of the title page with the publication data, along with various other standard call numbers for other library systems. Others you can look up through the Library of Congress website, or the library of some academic institution. There were a few books, just a handful, where no LCCN existed, so I had to kind of fudge it and make it up based on books on similar topics. But for my own personal system that’s okay.
Now that it’s all done, there is some stuff that feels to me like it’s mis-catalogued. Like my anthology on the anthropology of sport is right next to stuff on ritual and performance theory. I mean I guess it makes sense — it’s just not what I’m used to. But I’ll get used to it. And as my collection grows I think the order will make more sense as I fill in some of the blanks.
So that’s it — you have just seen the heights of my total nerdiness. I bet you can’t wait until I get back to baking.