Weeding & Organizing

Organizing books, paperwork, etc. isn’t a cookie cutter process.  Some items can be organized easily once a system has  been developed but periodically there will be an exception to the rule.  One point from a college course in Logic I learned was that you want to avoid using “always” and “never” because sooner or later there will be an exception.

For example, in many libraries the preferred organization methods are the Dewey Decimal System or Library of Congress Classification System.  However, in the church library I’m the committee chair of, we had to create a user-friendly system which was far less complex and could be understood at a glance.  The library is small enough that our “card catalog” is a three-ring binder with the books listed in three sections: by author, by title, and by category.  Some of the categories we came up with are Faith & Spirituality, Devotionals, Social Justice, and Church & Ministry.  Having this terribly basic system has made it occasionally difficult to decide which category most fits a particular title.  But the ease of use for the end user makes this the better system for this situation, “circumstances alter cases” as a favorite author writes.

I find determining new book placement to be easier than weeding though.  There is a Russian proverb which says to keep an item for seven years as it will prove useful at some point.  I was recently sorting through one of my file folders of “may be useful someday” articles and clippings.  Some of the items I’d had for more than seven years, some less, but I had a hard time deciding if several could still be useful or if another source I had found since then or may find in the future would be better.

One method of sorting books I read of was when a book editor in New York City was moving to a smaller apartment she came up with one criteria on whether or not to keep a book.  When she looked at each book the question was, “Will I ever read this again?”  If the answer was yes, she took it with her; if no, she got rid of it.  I never heard how she reorganized books in her new apartment but I’ve been trying to use that criteria for my books.  Of course, there are exceptions: books with sentimental value or reference works which I just may have a use for “someday” tend to get a reprieve.

I don’t know if the “will I ever read this again?” criteria is the best method for organizing or weeding one’s books but it is a method.  It will work for me until I find additional ideas with which to tweak it….

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