Friday, August 31, 2007

Cataloguing my personal library

It was not without a great deal of sadness that I told Motee about my Mom's latest declaration - "Thou shalt not buy any more books". And the reason is very simple, there ain't no more space in my room to keep books !!

It isn't as if my room resembles the grand hall of the National Library. It's just that the sweet and charming book-shelf above my erstwhile study table ("erstwhile", since there's very little studying happening nowadays and of course, there's the PC on top of the desk as well, leaving very little space for desk jobs) has absolutely no space to accommodate any more books. And because of this, of late, most of my books were being piled one on top of another.

This obviously led to a very frustrating time as a bibliophile. It is extremely irritating when one cannot keep track of all the books that one has at his disposal.

So today evening, I set out to at least iron out my troubles as far as cataloguing my books was concerned. I did the most obvious thing any b-schooler would've done...I Googled. And although the scientific methods of Dewey and the Library of Congress mentioned in the comments space of this page proved to be much more than what I needed for the handful of books that I have, the range of comments and the various manners of cataloguing books (both scientific and the not so scientific) did help me in coming up with a strategy, keeping in mind the limited space resource that I have.

I proceeded to lay out all my books on the bed and as I separated the fiction from the non-fiction ones, I entered the names of the books and the respective authors into a spreadsheet on my laptop. Once this was done, I arranged my non-fiction books into categories such as 'business', 'philosophy', 'religion', 'cinema' etc. As for the fiction books, I decided I didn't want to get into anything fancy right now and just arrange them in alphabetical order, first by the name of the author and then by the name of the books.

Two and a half hours after I started this labour of love, I had achieved quite a few things.

1) Most of my books have been neatly arranged in the same book-shelf that I, not so long ago, thought incapable of holding as many books.

2) I have been able to separate the "books" from the old text-books (reminders of my school life) and the various editions of the Readers' Digest.

3) A 'database' of books has now been created which shall help me in keeping me informed of all the books that I have and those which I have lent out to friends.

4) The greatest reward for cataloguing my books has been that now I have a fair idea of the next few books that I want to buy. For instance, I realized that I have very few books on cinema and cricket. Also, there are a lot many more classics that I want to read.

All in all, the back-breaking exercise seems to have paid off. At the end of the day, I'm a happy bibliophile.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to convince Mum that I should buy more books. Hmm...


arpana said...

yaar, pliss to do it for me also, I can send the 8 crates of books I have.

Shekhar said...


Na re.. even doing mine was such a back-breaking exercise!! God only knows how much time I'll take for 8 crates...

Shaily said...

Good job!!

Shekhar said...

shaily: Thank you... he he he.. :)

hyacinthgirl said...

Still loving your blog this morning. I, too, have WAY too many books. A piece of advice---if you lend a book to a friend, consider it gone. No matter how good the friend, the chances of it coming back are 50-50. There's a great line in "Out of Africa" where he loans a book and never gets it back and gets rid of the friend...Isak Dinisen's character says, "You mean, you would sacrifice a friend for a book?" "No," Denis' character response, "He sacrificed a book for a friend." The book is gone. Deal with it.

I love your blog and hearing about life in Calcutta! Keep writing as I'd love to keep reading!